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Lizard brain debunked: Some lizards are as smart as some birds, but we have a hard time finding out because …

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green anole, Everglades

Anyone who has suffered through business motivation books has learned about the reptilian brain – the supposedly primitive part of the brain that difficultco-workers and family members are supposedly channelling.

You heard that? Now forget it. Not remotely related to real life. For one thing, as we learn in “Cold-blooded cunning Reptiles are more intelligent than previously thought” (The Economist, Jul 14th 2011), a species of anole lizards are at least as clever as tits (a bird well-studied for intelligence), researchers face a problem:

Having established that lizards are at least as clever as birds at such simple tasks, Dr Leal hopes to go on and explore the evolutionary forces behind lizard intelligence. He does, however, have a problem—and it is one that might help to explain why, besides phylogenetic prejudice, the lizard mind has not been properly investigated before. Tits, being warm-blooded, have to eat a lot and thus have a strong incentive to collaborate with researchers in such experiments. The average lizard, by contrast, is happy to consume a single grub a day. It may therefore be some time before the next paper appears on the subject.

While Darwinism reigns (= the only explanation for intelligence is the need to compete for food, and mates), nothing can be learned about intelligence that gets past the fatuous motivation manual. What if it turns out that some lizards are curious and prefer solving problems for a reward to sitting motionless in a terrarium until someone tosses a cricket in?

See also:

A really smart lizard would conceal the extent of its knowledge

Smart reptiles watch: So much for the dumb, unfeeling reptilian brain

Hat tip: AITSE

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