Monday/ thinking animal thoughts

I couldn’t resist buying the Sunday Wall Street Journal when I saw this elephant picture in the ‘Review’ section.  It is an Indian elephant : the African ones don’t have the speckled skins.  The article makes the point that experiments designed to test animals’ thinking should keep their physiology in mind.  Chimpanzees will readily use sticks as tools to reach food.  Elephants do not, but are not dumb, since holding the stick with its trunk closes its ‘nose’; and it cannot smell the food that way.  But they will go find crates from far away to step on, to reach food that was placed out of reach.  The article also mentions that animals can be extremely keen observers of human body language – as was the case of Kluger (Clever) Hans the German horse of a century ago, that ‘could do math’.  An audience would say ‘3 + 4!’ and Hans would tap seven times with his hoof.  The secret was that he watched his owner very closely for a signal that the correct answer was reached.

IMG_8402 sm
Mr Elephant looks very pensive, somewhat sad? Picture from the review section of Sunday’s Wall Street Journal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *