Re: comparative studies of animal vs. human intelligence?

From: Olie Lamb (
Date: Sun Nov 06 2005 - 18:46:59 MST

Chris Capel wrote:

>I think it's implied by evolution that the difference between humans
>and other higher mammals as far as absolute intellectual ability can
>be traced back to small, specific differences between us and
>chimpanzees, and somewhat larger differences from other apes,
>continuing on to large differences from bats, dolphins, cats, and
>dogs. Have there been a lot of inquiries into this question? I would
>figure it would be one of the more fruitful methods of gaining an
>understanding of human intelligence.
Animal intelligence is a funny thing. For one, it's annoyingly
difficult to test for without showing massive anthropomorphic bias, but
even so...

There have been a fair few studies that have tried to relate animal
intelligence to specific variables, such as brain volume; brain weight
vs body weight ; diet etc. The results aren't particularly strong-
there are some trends, (notably volume) but they're largely limited by
the ability to use similar testing methods across different species.
How exactly do you get a whale to run through a maze?

Then there's the few odd surprises where species that are further away
from us evolutionarily dramatically outperform our closer relatives.
For instance, many birds crap all over sheep and other livestocky
animals in all sorts of intelligence tests. Then you've got octopodes
outperforming simians at spatial relations tests.

-- Olie

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