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Living dinosaur intelligence
Irene Pepperberg, since 1986, has, as it were,
revolutionized perspectives of the cognitive ability
of various extant theropods, concentrating on the
African grey parrot Psittacus erithacus.
Her two recent papers are valuable:
2002 In search of King Solomon's Ring: cognitive and
communicative studies of grey parrots (Psittacus
erithacus). Brain Behavior & Evolution 59(1/2):54-67
2002 Cognitive and communicative abilities of grey
parrots. Current Directions in Psychological Science
She challenges (as does Marc Bekoff) the various
(often gendered and racialist) paradigms of "emotion"
and "intelligence" as transposed on to non-human taxa;
and Alex, the African grey parrot who is her dinosaur
companion, has shaken the conceptual foundations of
the discussions (many of which, to be sure, have roots
in Victorian biological circles).
For those, like me, who wonder still: chimpanzees and
humans are not the only animals capable of recognizing
themselves in a mirror, nor is the Henry Walter
Bates-derived idea of "mimicry" necessarily applicable
to dinosaur vocalizations. If a dinosaur is able to
use human linguistic phrases to convey wants/needs, is
the dinosaur cognitively using abstracts?
Thus, attention is now being brought on what have been
hitherto "wives tales" re: dinosaur intelligence,
especially among, e.g., crows and vultures and
parrots, all of whom have displayed more than
colourful feathers. Culture, as Irene Pepperberg seems
to be saying, just might be in the beak of the
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