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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

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.

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)

Marcus, Gary. The Birth of the Mind. New York: Basic Books, 2004. Noted in the previous section, in this regard Marcus see the procession of organisms from microbes to social insects, mammals and onto humans to be distinguished by a vectorial advance in neural architecture, premeditated aware behavior and presently the “sum total of the library of knowledge.” And it all begins with a true “bacterial brain.”

Margulis, Lynn. The Conscious Cell. Pedro Marijuan, ed. Cajal and Consciousness. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2001. From her studies of the symbiotic cell, Margulis perceives the presence in bacterial realms of a rudimentary “microbial mind.”

In my description of the origin of the eukaryotic cell via bacterial cell merger, the components fused via symbiogenesis are already “conscious” entities. (55)

Marino, Lori. Cetaceans and Primates: Convergence in Intelligence and Self-Awareness. Journal of Cosmology. Volume 14, 2011. In this issue on how prevalent sentient brethren might be across celestial reaches, for this online posting about a creative, mindful universe, the Emory University behavioral anthropologist avers that based on a common evolutionary emergence toward a similar cultural cognizance for these widely separated, anciently related species, there is good evidence for such a neighborly presence.

One of the ongoing debates within the astrobiology community has to do with contingency and convergence, that is, whether, if the "tape of life" were rewound, would complex intelligence evolve again on the earth. I argue that cetacean and primate intelligence is a case of cognitive convergence. Evolutionary convergence can occur within any domain of biology, from chemistry to morphology to cognition. Cognitive convergence, specifically, is convergence in those processes that comprise the way an organism processes information. In a general way cognitive convergence refers to convergence in intelligence. Since it is arguably the case that the common ancestor of cetaceans and primates, who lived over 95 million years ago, did not possess many of these shared traits, e.g., self-awareness, symbolic language comprehension, culture, the existence of these traits in these two highly divergent groups of mammals represents a striking case of cognitive convergence.

Marino, Lori. Convergence of Complex Cognitive Abilities in Cetaceans and Primates. Brain, Behavior and Evolution. 59/1-2, 2002. In contrast to the prevailing view, the Emory University neuroscientist cites new results to imply that the rise of intelligent cognition and societies will persistently occur across widely diverse species.

In this paper I will provide evidence that convergent intelligence has occurred in two distantly related mammalian taxa. Despite a deep evolutionary divergence…some primates and cetaceans show striking convergence in social behavior, artificial ‘language’ comprehension and self-recognition ability. (21)

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