Julian Omidi discusses the intelligence of animals and looks at how non-human communication has pointed the way for various research efforts in the field.
New research is showing that humans and primates are not necessarily the smartest of all living species.
This conclusion goes against traditional assumptions that mankind, along with our primate cousins, have the most developed brains on the planet. Now it appears that the brainiest animals might reside among the multitude of creatures that make up the earth’s sea life.
Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are enjoying a new status among researchers who study animal intelligence.
Speaking, or communicating in any audible way, is the hallmark of brain power among living beings. Scientists have long suspected that cetaceans employ extremely complicated methods of “talking” to one another, an idea that modern research supports.
Without getting bogged down in scientific minutiae, the newest explanation looks at the way cetaceans communicate with each other. It seems as though they are able to convey thoughts or images via sound, something akin to mental telepathy.
Does this mean dolphins and whales are psychic? Maybe, at least based upon the most rudimentary definition of that word.
Other experts think chimps are probably the smartest non-humans on earth. Chimps think like us and use tools in ways that indicate high brain power. Pigs, bottlenose dolphins and parrots are usually the next three entries on “most intelligent animals” lists. Pigs have unique abilities to adapt and learn, while bottlenose dolphins possess a higher brain-mass percentage than any other animal. Parrots, no slouches in the animal IQ department, have amazingly powerful memories and can solve complicated problems. The ability to mimic human speech is just one of their many talents.
The rest of the smartest animals list is rounded out by whales, dogs, octopuses, elephants, squirrels and cats. Recent experiments prove that elephants have advanced social skills and are capable of emotional empathy. Octopuses, squirrels and cats share a powerful expertise as hunters or gatherers, while dogs are fast learners and have an uncanny ability to notice small details of a given environment. Like the animal kingdom itself, research evolves. The latest data about cetaceans is truly cutting-edge science. Look for lots of follow-up studies and media attention in this fascinating area of academic research.
My brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, recently delved into the topic of animal rights on his own website. The subject of “legal personhood” for animals is a new field in the world of law. If society hopes to successfully address the thorny issue of animal cruelty, the legal profession will need to clearly spell out what rights animals have and don’t have. But the legal question is really only a sidebar to the core issue of preventing abuse. Yes, stricter laws are needed to punish humans who are cruel to animals, but getting into protracted legal battles over hair-splitting definitions is not the most direct way to prevent animal abuse.
As research continues to show that animals are much wiser than we ever suspected, it becomes even more important for humans to treat them with kindness and care. Intelligent or not, animals are sentient beings that feel pain and, in many cases, have emotions. It is our duty to protect them from harm and assure their well-being.
Thanks for caring about our animal friends,
Julian Omidi writes about health news, charitable giving and various topics related to animal support and poverty elimination.
The Children’s Obesity Fund-sponsored organization Gardenworks for Kids will be hosting a day of hiking and nature walking for families. Gardenworks for Kids is a nonprofit organization that gives elementary school children the chance to learn about organic gardening, nutrition and environmental responsibility. Michael Omidi discusses the work of Gardenworks for Kids, as well as the obesity epidemic in the United States.
Gardenworks for Kids, a nonprofit organization sponsored by Children’s Obesity Fund, will be hosting Indian Hill Family Hike Day in Twin Peaks, California on November 2nd. The day will be spent enjoying the pine forests and beautiful vistas along the trail. The outing is free of charge, and families are encouraged to attend.
Gardenworks for kids is dedicated to introducing children to healthy lifestyles and eating habits by teaching them to appreciate the joys of the organic garden. The programs are tailored to children from kindergarten through 5th grade, and the curriculum offers kids the opportunity to grow their own vegetables, fruits and herbs. In addition to working in the outdoors and learning about horticulture, the kids are able to embrace environmental responsibility and the natural habitat of local fauna.
From a nutritional perspective, Gardenworks for Kids gives children invaluable instruction on the benefits of natural foods and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. After a semester of gardening, the kids use the vegetables to make vegetable soup and garden pizzas. The older children use the fruit from their orchard to learn how to dehydrate fruits and make their own nutritious snacks.
Getting children to understand and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables is critically important in curbing childhood obesity. Kids who grow their own fresh foods are more likely to recognize the benefits of eating healthily, and consequently develop a curiosity about and appreciation for unfamiliar foods, rather than stick to easy, nutritionally void processed snacks.
Kids who live in urban environments are rarely able to experience nature and all of the beauties therein. Unfortunately, childhood obesity is a rampaging issue among children in large cities. However, Gardenworks for Kids programs brings the outdoors to children who aren’t normally exposed to greenery, and provides these kids with rigorous work that ultimately yields wonderful results not only for their environment, but also for their young bodies. There is a great deal of sweat and cardiovascular activity involved in gardening, planting trees and sowing seeds, and at the end of the season, the kids have a bountiful harvest.
The Indian Hill Family Hike Day will take place between 9am and 2pm.