The multiple evolution of intelligence
There's a great article in Scientific American about the multiple intdependent evolution of intelligence.
Even more amazingly, Clayton showed that the birds can anticipate unique future events. She allowed jays to observe others of their kind cache food and then permitted them to pilfer the caches. Later these birds cached their own food, either alone or in the presence of another jay. Birds that had acted as thieves took great precautions to conceal their food-caching activities when in the presence of another jay. Although the jays had experienced food theft only in the role of thief, they nonetheless were able to imagine themselves in the role of victim. The ability to recall specific episodes in the past and to predict future occurrences is known as mental time travel [see “Intelligence Evolved,” by Ursula Dicke and Gerhard Roth; Scientific American Mind, August/September 2008]. Before Clayton’s work, this cognitive ability was thought to be unique to humans.
Colour me unsurprised. I've seen other corvids (specifically ravens) act intelligently. Yet another way in which humans are not special.
The article isn't specifically about birds, though a lot is given over to them. It's a general article about how intelligence has evolved independently on several separate occasions. I guess this is a surprising find, even though we've witnessed intelligent behaviour is cephalopods, and we would've split from them long before growing a spine, let alone developing intelligence.
Very interesting read.
"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers