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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies

3. Animal Intelligence and Sociality

Heyes, Cecilia. Four Routes of Cognitive Evolution. Psychological Review. 110/4, 2003. The study of how human faculties evolved is presently hampered by a “nativist” paradigm and its attribution to cerebral modules. A better approach is to include four domains: phylogenetic construction or inflection, and ontogenetic construction or inflection. Much of the article is about overcoming this misplaced emphasis with a more “constructivist” approach.

A route is described as phylogenetic when the source is natural selection and as ontogenetic when the source is developmental selection. It is called construction when the locus is a cognitive mechanism and inflection when the locus is input to the cognitive mechanism. (714)

Heyes, Cecilia and Ludwig Huber, eds. The Evolution of Cognition. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000. Studies by way of “evolutionary psychology” that imply the driving force toward homo sapiens is social interaction which builds bigger brains.

Hurley, Susan and Matthew Nudds, eds. Rational Animals? Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. An extensive, formal work, as scholars lately come around to admitting and qualifying that throughout Metazoan kingdoms, creatures indeed possess an active rationality and relative culture.

Japyassu, Hilton and Kevin Laland. Extended Spider Cognition. Animal Cognition. 20/3, 2017. Federal University of Bahia, Brazil, and University of St. Andrews, UK social biologists cleverly perceive a natural propensity for informed intelligence which is seen to expand beyond a creature’s neural system only. In a broad evolutionary arc, life seems to have a persistent drive to gain an increasing beneficial knowledge. Our collaborative human sapiensphere lately seems to have attained an unlimited capacity for reconstructions from this vital microcosm to an infinite, conducive macrocosm. We cite the full Abstract to convey.

There is a tension between the conception of cognition as a central nervous system (CNS) process and a view of cognition as extending towards the body or the contiguous environment. The centralised conception requires large or complex nervous systems to cope with complex environments. Conversely, the extended conception involves the outsourcing of information processing to the body or environment, thus making fewer demands on the processing power of the CNS. The evolution of extended cognition should be particularly favoured among small, generalist predators such as spiders, and here, we review the literature to evaluate the fit of empirical data with these contrasting models of cognition. Spiders do not seem to be cognitively limited, displaying a large diversity of learning processes, from habituation to contextual learning, including a sense of numerosity.

To tease apart the central from the extended cognition, we apply the mutual manipulability criterion, testing the existence of reciprocal causal links between the putative elements of the system. We conclude that the web threads and configurations are integral parts of the cognitive systems. The extension of cognition to the web helps to explain some puzzling features of spider behaviour and seems to promote evolvability within the group, enhancing innovation through cognitive connectivity to variable habitat features. Graded changes in relative brain size could also be explained by outsourcing information processing to environmental features. More generally, niche-constructed structures emerge as prime candidates for extending animal cognition, generating the selective pressures that help to shape the evolving cognitive system. (Abstract)

Kabadayi, Can and Mathias Osvath. Ravens Parallel Great Apes in Flexible Planning for Tool-Use and Bartering. Science. 357/202, 2017. Lund University, Sweden, cognitive scientists offer more evidence about how animals are smart, clever, and indeed human-like in their creative behaviors. If a morsel is put in the middle of a one inch diameter, six inch long, horizontal tube on a post, the ravens manipulate handy twigs to push it out. The experience is then mentally stored for further usage. See also a commentary in the same issue A Raven’s Memories are for the Future by Markus Boeckle and Nicola Clayton.

The ability to flexibly plan for events outside of the current sensory scope is at the core of being human and is crucial to our everyday lives and society. Studies on apes have shaped a belief that this ability evolved within the hominid lineage. Corvids, however, have shown evidence of planning their food hoarding, although this has been suggested to reflect a specific caching adaptation rather than domain-general planning. Here, we show that ravens plan for events unrelated to caching—tool-use and bartering—with delays of up to 17 hours, exert self-control, and consider temporal distance to future events. Their performance parallels that seen in apes and suggests that planning evolved independently in corvids, which opens new avenues for the study of cognitive evolution. (Abstract)

King, James, et al. Evolution of Intelligence, Language and Other Emergent Processes for Consciousness. Stuart Hameroff, et al, eds. Toward a Science of Consciousness II. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998. A report about primate researchers who are finding a phylogenetic gradation in animal behavior and awareness.

This chapter proposes the hypothesis that the evolution of consciousness in mammals paralleled the development of independent control of behavior. In other words, as the sophistication of independent control has increased, we assume a corresponding increase in consciousness has occurred. (383)

Koch, Christoph and Florian Mormann. The Neurobiology of Consciousness. Zewail, Ahmed, ed. Physical Biology: From Atoms to Medicine. London: Imperial College Press, 2008. Caltech neuroscientists in part discern an emergent continuum of stirring sentience which extends by degree through the animal kingdoms.

There are three reasons to assume that many species, in particular those with complex behaviors such as mammals, share at least some aspects of consciousness with humans: (i) Similar neuronal architectures (ii) Similar behavior (iii) Evolutionary continuity. (376)

Krutzen, Michael, et al. Cultural Transmission of tool Use in Bottlenose Dolphins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 102/8939, 2005. One of the first observations of an existing material culture amongst marine mammals. Female dolphins forage by breaking off a piece of sponge and using it to stir up the sea floor. Similar to tool use by chimpanzees, this is primarily a matriline activity and heritage.

Kuo, Tzu-Hsin and Chuan-Chin Chiao. Learned Valuation during Forage Decision-making in Cuttlefish. Royal Society Open Science. December, 2020. National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan neuroscientists describe the many clever, thought through devices that this cephalopod uses to find and secure food. Their practice of “optimal foraging theory” indicates a heretofore unexpected level of aware intelligence in this species. See also Cuttlefish Took Something Like a Marshmallow Test by Veronique Greenwood in the New York Times for December 30, 2020.

Laland, Kevin and Bennett Galef, eds. The Question of Animal Culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. A further contribution to how wise and social our furry, feathered, and finned friends are, as if this needed to be quantified. But once the very idea, long taboo, is admitted then all sorts of primate, cetacean, rodent, avian, and so, groupings can be seen to have extensive and familiar cultural systems. But have we humans evolved beyond the meerkats as on Animal Planet TV where each clan or tribe is driven to annihilate the other. From Sri Lanka and the Sudan to Kurdistan and Northern Ireland are we powerless to stop the carnage.

Loukola, Olli, et al. Bumblebees Show Cognitive Flexibility by Improving on an Observed Complex Behavior. Science. 355/833, 2017. Queen Mary University of London experimental psychologists find that social insects have a more expansive behavioral repertoire than expected, including rapid learning and tool use.

MacIntosh, Andrew, et al. Temporal Fractals in Seabird Foraging Behavior: Diving Through the Scales of Time. Nature Scientific Reports. 3/1884, 2013. With self-similar topologies now proven to suffuse nature at every spatial and temporal phase, researchers from Japan, France and Australia, along with New Zealand penguins, further verify that avian activities are graced by these same vital geometries. By what imaginations then, whereby each of these myriad findings appears as an iconic portal, might we collectively realize an ordained greater reality suffused with this mathematical genome?

Animal behaviour exhibits fractal structure in space and time. Fractal properties in animal space-use have been explored extensively under the Lévy flight foraging hypothesis, but studies of behaviour change itself through time are rarer, have typically used shorter sequences generated in the laboratory, and generally lack critical assessment of their results. We thus performed an in-depth analysis of fractal time in binary dive sequences collected via bio-logging from free-ranging little penguins (Eudyptula minor) across full-day foraging trips. Results from 4 fractal methods show that dive sequences are long-range dependent and persistent across ca. 2 orders of magnitude. This fractal structure correlated with trip length and time spent underwater, but individual traits had little effect. Fractal time is a fundamental characteristic of penguin foraging behaviour, and its investigation is thus a promising avenue for research on interactions between animals and their environments. (Abstract)

In conclusion, we show here that penguin dive sequences exhibit a complex fractal structure through time, and relate this structure to a combination of extrinsic (environmental) and intrinsic (self) organizational control elements. The application of fractal tools to temporal sequences of animal behaviour should be explored further, particularly in, though far from limited to, organisms that are often used as indicator species for climate and environmental change, like the penguins examined here and many other top predators in marine ecosystems. The merger of bio-logging and fractal analysis represents an important opportunity to do so, promising to advance our understanding of the many interactions that occur between animals and the environments in which they are found. (7)

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