Birds, it turns out, have brains structured more like those of mammals than previously realized. That may shed light on the fact that some birds are as smart as some primates.
Then the story falls captive to naturalism and begins to fall apart: For example, with this claim, “Over time, more and more of these supposed pillars of human exceptionalism have fallen. Nieder et al. now argue that the relationship between consciousness and a standard cerebral cortex is another fallen pillar (see the Perspective by Herculano-Houzel).” From Mind Matters News:
Stripped of the rhetoric about supposedly fallen “pillars of human exceptionalism,” the researchers found a neuronal response in carrion crows that “might be a broad marker” for consciousness.
Well, sure, it might. But before we get carried away, the consciousness we should know the most about is human consciousness, which remains almost a complete mystery to us, despite much research. Many elements of brain organization in humans and birds may turn out to be correlates of consciousness. But the treatment of the question here has far more to do with a myth—that science is showing that human consciousness is not exceptional—than it does with unraveling the mystery of human or corvid consciousness.
That said, one science writer offers an interesting tidbit that impacts the current Darwinian theory of evolution:
“The broader, speculative implication of the research is that the last common ancestor of birds and mammals, which existed 320 million years ago, may also have had the same cognitive machinery and thus been similarly capable of formidable thinking abilities. – Ross Pomeroy, “Newly Discovered Brain Structure May Grant Birds Impressive Intelligence.” at RealClearScience“
His proposed new estimate greatly shortens the amount of time available for natural selection acting on random mutation to produce intelligence. Not surprisingly, evolution theory is currently undergoing considerable revision just now, on account of many similar issues.Denyse O’Leary, “Why does science embrace the “talking animals” myth?” at Mind Matters News
Attempts to undermine respect for human intelligence based on recent findings about bird intelligence are ridiculous compared to our ancestors’ smart bird folklore.
You may also enjoy:
The real reason why only human beings speak. Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly.
In what ways are cats intelligent? It’s hard to come up with an interspecies IQ test. We live in a world where dogs are smarter than wolves in some ways but wolves are smarter than dogs in others. So much depends on what we want to measure. So let’s look at cats in relation to dogs because dogs have been studied so much more.