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>July 13, 2005 12:12 PM PDT
>A parrot gets the concept of zero
>An African Grey Parrot at Brandeis University appears to understand a
>numerical concept akin to zero. In a >series of counting experiments, Alex, a
>28-year-old parrot who lives in a Brandeis lab run by comparative
>>psychologist Irene Pepperberg, spontaneously and correctly used the label
>"none" during trials of his >counting skills to describe an absence of colored
>blocks on a tray.
>The findings, published in the current issue of The Journal of Comparative
>Psychology, add to a growing body >of scientific evidence that the avian
>brain, though quite different from the brains of mammals, are capable >of
>handling more complex processes than previously thought.
>Generally, humans don't begin to understand the concept of zero until about
>three or four years old (longer >in the case of some). Chimps and spider
>monkeys have been shown to have some rudimentary understanding of the >concept
>of none. Grey parrots have the brain the size of a walnut.
>Posted by Michael Kanellos