Animal minds

Animal minds: In search of the minimal self

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<em>Dogs</em> and Cats Coaster
courtesy Urban Magic/PressLoft

What our dogs and cats feel like when we don’t understand them.

From Evolution News & Views:

… Continuities can be merely apparent, not actual.

Consider, for example, the laptop computer vs. the typewriter. Both feature the QWERTYUIOP keyboard. That might suggest a physical continuity between the two machines. The story would run thus: Computer developers added more and more parts to the typewriter, and subtracted some, until they had transformed the typewrter into a laptop.

But of course, they didn’t. They adapted a widely recognized keyboard layout to an entirely new type of machine. Continuities are created by history, not laws. If we don’t know the history, we don’t know whether a similarity reflects continuity or not.

Bolhuis and Wynne continue, “In other words, evolutionary convergence may be more important than common descent in accounting for similar cognitive outcomes in different animal groups.”

Indeed. There is no specific type of brain uniquely associated with intelligent behavior in animals (other than humans). There is, however, convergence in intelligent behavior among vertebrates (crows) and invertebrates (octopuses).

Yet most invertebrate species do not stand out in intelligence. That fact should receive more attention than it does. The nature and origin of intelligence may be quite different from what researchers have supposed. More.

See also: The full Animal minds series

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2 Replies to “Animal minds: In search of the minimal self

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    My cat has a mind of his own, for sure.

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    AHA. They retreat to convergence to explain results as opposed to common descent. AHA. As they think more, research more, they discover more common descent does not easily, or at all, explain stuff.
    So convergent evolution does.
    I insist they don’t want to go there.
    Watch the trench you leave because the next one might be full of water.
    But why am i helping them??

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