VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies
3. Animal Intelligence and Sociality
White, Thomas I. Ethical Implications of Dolphin Intelligence: Dolphins as Nonhuman Persons. http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2010/webprogram/Paper1489.html. An Abstract for a presentation at a 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego. As a follow up to his In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier (Blackwell, 2007) the Loyola Marymount University philosopher proposes that much like us, dolphins are self-conscious, unique individuals with a wide range of emotions, able to reflect upon and choose their actions. As a result, they ought to be regarded as “persons” just the same. By these lights, they merit much more regard than at present where many fishing and other invasions often decimate their nautical pods. And by extension one may add, it might be in order to recognize all the animals, who are often as sensitive, wise, and aware than we know or credit, indeed relative “persons” in their evolutionary form and turn, as altogether a single, long embryonic manifestation.
Whiten, Andrew. Cultural Evolution in Animals. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. Volume, 2019. The University of St. Andrews social psychologist contends that recent field and laboratory studies quite indicate that contrary to past beliefs, all manner of Metazoan creaturely groupings do indeed possess what could be seen as relative culture-like qualities.
Wirthin, Morgan, et al. Parrot Genomes and the Evolution of Heightened Longevity and Cognition. Current Biology. 28/1, 2018. As the abstract details, a 21 person team from the USA, Brazil, and Argentina including Claudio Mello achieved a novel genomic-based explanation of why this Psittacine order is more effectively intelligent than any other avian species. The findings merited a New York Times item The Genes That Make Parrots into the Humans of the Bird World by JoAnna Klein (Dec. 7, 2018).
Parrots are one of the most distinct and intriguing groups of birds, with highly expanded brains, well developed cognitive and vocal communication skills, and a long lifespan compared to other similar-sized birds. To address this question, we have generated a high-coverage, annotated assembly of the genome of the blue-fronted Amazona aestiva and carried out extensive comparative analyses with 30 other avian species, including 4 additional parrots. We identified several genomic features unique to parrots which support a range of cellular functions, including telomerase activity; DNA damage repair; control of cell proliferation, cancer, and immunity. Intriguingly, parrot-specific changes in conserved regulatory sequences were associated with genes that are linked to cognitive abilities and have undergone similar selection in the human lineage, suggesting convergent evolution. (Abstract)
Wuketits, Franz. Evolutionary Epistemology and Its Implications for Humankind. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990. In the 1980’s the endeavor that studied cognitive abilities in an evolutionary light was known by this name. Reviewed more in The Spiral of Science, it is noted here since by this view an emergent scale of animal intelligence gains veracity.
“…evolution is a universal cognition and learning process and there is a nested hierarchy of such processes from unicellular animals to humans.” (8)