Zoology

Animal Minds by Donald R. Griffin

By Donald R. Griffin

"Animal Minds tackles a question that's either interesting and demanding. the overpowering physique of proof that Donald Griffin has assembled places past average doubt the case for spotting that many non-human animals . . . are in a position to even more refined considering than many scientists were ready to believe."--Peter Singer, writer of Animal Liberation.

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This entailed concentrating their efforts where food was most plentiful and moving on when it became depleted. But these shifts were not rigidly programmed; they did not wait until every last fly had been captured, but moved to richer sources when the effort required to catch another fly became greater than that needed to move on. The shifts were not random; the wagtails moved to other areas where insects were plentiful. These decisions seemed to be based on seeing the larger flies on fresh dung pats.

But locating food is so crucial that many animals have developed not only efficient sensory mechanisms for distinguishing signs of food from very similar objects, but an ability to learn what is a fruitful searching image. This is well illustrated by the experiments of Pietrewicz and Kamil (1981), who applied to bluejays instead of pigeons the type of operant conditioning procedures developed by psychologists. Naive bluejays were adept at learning how to pick out cryptically colored moths resting on backgrounds very similar to their own appearance.

1983; Ostwald et al. 1988). But most searching is based on vision, olfaction, or hearing. The basic idea of a searching image, or its equivalent, was discussed by many early ethologists, and in recent years detailed studies of foraging birds have shown that they look for particular patterns that reveal where food is to be found, such as the barely perceptible outline of a cryptically colored moth resting on the bark of a tree trunk (Pierrewicz and Kamil 1981). In a wide variety of laboratory experiments, rats or pigeons learn that visual patterns which ordinarily have nothing to do with food are now signals that food can be obtained.

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