Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Some Super Smart Animals

I don't watch much television, but I happened by accident on an interesting documentary on TVO called Super Smart Animals (it's actually a BBC program). Granted, it's a lousy National Geographic-esque title, but the program included some quite arresting footage, including:
  • an orangutan that uses water to float a peanut to the top of a tube in order to reach it;
  • a European jay that learns to use pebbles to raise the water level in a tube in order to get to a floating morsel of food (a skill that evades humans until about the age of seven) in no time at all;
  • a California dog that has taught itself to skateboard, with little or no human intervention;
  • an Alaska chickadee that solves food-finding problems that a cosseted southern chickadee from Kansas has no clue where to start on;
  • a night heron that has the foresight to use bread to fish with rather than just to eat;
  • a pair of dolphins that learn to perform synchronized creative routines on the fly;
  • an African grey parrot that has been taught to distinguish a huge variety of different letters, numbers, shapes, colours, etc, and to verbalize them;
  • a chimpanzee in Japan that can play computer number games, and can easily memorize a random set of 9 numbers and screen positions in just 60 milliseconds, a feat no human can even come close to.
And this was just Episode 1. It may become that very rare thing, a regular TV spot for me.

It turns out that the "series" actually comprises just two episodes, and the second of them is much less interesting and mind-blowing than the first.

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