The further scientists explore the behaviour and intellect of animals

August 2, 2011- Source: The Globe & Mail

The further scientists explore the behaviour and intellect of animals, insects and fish, the closer wilflife seems to humanity. Employing tools: Scientists have new evidence that the blackspot tuskfish uses a rock as an anvil to crack open a clam. Tool use by animals may be more common than once thought. It is often associated with human evolution and intelligence. New Caledonian crows make and use tools to get food aswell. They use twigs and leaves to make stick-like tools that are used to poke around for food as the bird holds it in its beak. Teaching each other: Studies used a technique called tandem running with ants. It involves pairs of ants, one experience leader and the other an inexperienced follower, travelling together to find food. When the leading ant ran in tandom it crawled 4 times slower to guide the newcomer. It took some persuading to get the teacher ant to show the newcomer around; it would only lead the other ant to food if tapped on its legs & abdomen. Ants can therefore learn and be taught the location of food, according to the study. Developing Culture: Different groups of whales and dolphins have been developing their own underwater culture for years. The study defined culture as information or behaviour through social learning. The male humpback whales could be as far away as Hawaii and Mexico but their songs are virtually the same. Songs are said to evolve over time but remain similar among member of the same group, regardless of distance. Also, according to the whale and dolphin study, different populations have vocal dialects based on vocal learning passed down over time. Using Landmarks: Pigeons use landmarks and remember locations of objects in order to pinpoint the current locations of things they’re looking for. Like rats, pigeons rely on “a representation of the broad shape of the enviroment to tell which direction is which.” Conversing: Parrots use their language skills to communicate basic needs and wants but they also allow researchers to examine their cognitition and intelligence.