Episode 105 Pro Extension
In Episode 105 – Animal Kin, we discover that animals are people, too, and some of them share a lot more in common with humans than you might think! For nearly as long as we’ve understood ourselves to be human, we’ve wondered what makes us unique from other animals. Philosophers, scientists and religious leaders alike have offered many answers about what makes us different — from intelligence and self-awareness to artistic capacity and imagination, from grief and fear of death to the belief in a human soul “made in God’s image.” Yet for every new theory about what makes us human, new research into our animal kin shows us that we share a lot more in common than we often assume.
In our first segment, we take a look at how biologists are reexamining the question of animal intelligence in “bird-brained” corvids — ravens, crows, jays and magpies — those clever companions and tricksters common in myths from all over the world. New research compares corvid intelligence with that of the great apes most closely related to humans, with some surprising results. Stories of creative crows and meticulous magpies pepper our examination of the neuroscience of avian brains and the evolutionary pressures that might give rise to wholly independent forms of intelligence in other animals.
Next, we explore how art and technology are slowly wearing away at the language barriers between homo sapiens and other animal species. The prominent linguist Noam Chomsky gets taught a lesson in recursive grammar by the common starling, and Jeff shares some new developments that might mean someday soon you’ll be able to use an iPhone app to talk to apes at the zoo (while Ali wonders if maybe scientists need to watch more movies about why this is a bad idea). We also discuss the controversial new exhibit by Jordan Eagle that incorporates animal blood into works of art, playing with our relationship to dark, light and gore in a sterilized modern world.
We wrap up the free portion of this week’s episode by looking at the evolving relationship between man and his best friend, as new research suggests dogs have been part of human communities for far longer than was previously thought and may have played a vital role in helping our ancestors out-compete the Neanderthals. We also look at studies comparing the genetic predispositions of domesticated dogs to those of wolves and foxes, and how canine companionship has shaped our own evolution as well, revealing a secret conspiracy to transform us into obedient personal servants for our woofy masters.
After covering the fascinating discoveries of conventional science, in our Pro extension we take a walk on the wilder side as we look at research into psychic animals and animal psychics. Jeff and Ali share stories of bizarre encounters and inexplicable experiences of their own, before moving on to research into the possible psychic relationship between pets and their owners. Why haven’t skeptics been able to disprove the work of one Cambridge scientist? And what does that mean for our relationship with our animal kin, and with each other?
- Intelligence in Corvids and Apes: A Case of Convergent Evolution?
- Meet the brains of the aniaml world
- The Birds And The B’s: Challenging Chomsky, Starlings Learn ‘Human-Only’ Syntax Patterns
- Want To Talk To Apes? There’s An App For That
- Jordan Eagles ‘Haemoscuro’: New Exhibit Makes Art Of Animal Blood
- Do the Eyes Have It? Dog domestication may have helped humans thrive while Neandertals declined
- Dogs, But Not Wolves, Use Humans As Tools
Pro Extension Links:
- Pet Psychic Stories
- Are Pet Psychics Real?
- Testing a Language – Using a Parrot for Telepathy
- A Dog That Seems To Know When His Owner is Coming Home: Videotaped Experiments and Observations
- Opening and closing theme: “Dragonfly” by Brian Boyko
- “The Fish And the Worm” and “House For A Mouse,” from Animals Are People Too, by The Wind Whistles
- Jackdaw by Conor Lawless
- Thanks to Playingwithbrushes and ~ Essence of a Dream ~ for the background textures!
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA License.
Tags: animals, apes, blood, corvids, dogs, evolution, intelligence, language, psychic pets