They are getting a hearing at Evolution News & Views: There is no Darwinian tree of intelligence, rather we need to study when and how it might be displayed in a given life form:
Reptiles lack certain brain structures found in mammals, but like birds they sometimes use the ones they have for purposes that apparently display intelligence: Crocodilians (alligators and crocodiles) are reported to use sticks as decoys, play, and work in teams. Tortoises may well be smarter than once believed, though here we rely mainly on anecdotes, not formal studies, for now.
Even fish have shown signs of what seems like intelligence. We are told that pairs of rabbitfishes “cooperate and support each other while feeding”:
While such behaviour has been documented for highly social birds and mammals, it has previously been believed to be impossible for fishes. … “We found that rabbitfish pairs coordinate their vigilance activity quite strictly, thereby providing safety for their foraging partner,” says Dr Simon Brandl from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
Why don’t reptiles and fish appear intelligent? Here is a possible clue: Anole lizards were found as capable as tits (birds) in a problem-solving test for a food reward. But the anoles, being exothermic, don’t need much food — which hinders research. When reptiles and fish need to solve problems, they often use the brain structures available to them quite effectively. The rest of the time they may be comfortably inert. If so, the relationship between brain structure and intelligence is more complex than we have supposed.More.
So much more to learn…
What we know: The very existence of animal life entails intelligence, but nonetheless, chimps are not entering the Stone Age. No animal is anywhere close or likely to ever be. Human intelligence seems to belong to a different order of things, despite all the casuistries concocted to pretend otherwise.
In fact, the situation we see is just what we should expect if the universe is based on information, not only matter and energy, and humans have a different level of access to it.
See also: What can we hope to learn about animal minds?
Are apes entering the Stone Age?
and What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness
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