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Thread: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    Well... I guess I started this thread...so not sure this is substantive enough. But it might kick off some ideas and get the mental juices flowing for others.

    I havent encountered that idea before...ie a pyramid of perceived value as you state them:

    Intelligence

    Cognition

    Instinct

    Memory
    I'm going to leave Instinct and Memory alone right now.....perhaps with the assumption that most creatures with a significant brain have those.

    So ...I thought i would find some definitions that made sense to me:

    Cognition:
    The term cognition (Latin: cognoscere, "to know" or "to recognize") refers to a faculty for the processing of information, applying knowledge, and changing preferences. Cognition, or cognitive processes, can be natural or artificial, conscious or unconscious
    Here I am focussing on the processing of information and applying knowledge...

    Intelligence:
    Intelligence is an umbrella term used to describe a property of the mind that encompasses many related abilities, such as the capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn. There are several ways to define intelligence. In some cases, intelligence may include traits such as creativity, personality, character, knowledge, or wisdom.
    Here I am picking up on thinking abstractly...and ... "to use language and to learn"

    The question was actually not about the existence of all four - and going back to the earlier post with our helpful chimpanzee who is happily cracking nuts with his IQ of 150 - but
    Anyone care to offer a substantive argument as

    To why we are the only form of being

    Which demonstrates all four?
    So is it possible that as a species - with our fabulous jaws/muscles/facial bone structures...the evolution of language is the distinguishing element that has allowed us to be the only form of being to "demonstrate" all four? Dolphins are fabulously bright, apparently, but the demonstration of those four factors and the evolution of abstract thought and reasoning...ie cognition...could language be the key that has allowed us also to learn? Hence to evolve ourselves to the top of the pyramid

    Who's the language expert out there?

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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    A good start, Skies.

    But I don't think it can be language that makes us different.

    Where I live, I'm surrounded by trees and birds who are tweeting to each other all day long on their own Twitter!

    The tweeting changes according to what's going on in their vicinity ~ you should hear them when old Shadow the next door's cat goes on the prowl.

    "May day! May day! May day!"

    And what about all those lovely sounds dolphins make, to communicate with one another?

    So nope ... I think we'll have to go back to the drawing board!
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  3. #23
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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    Quote Originally Posted by Ishtar
    A good start, Skies.

    But I don't think it can be language that makes us different.

    Where I live, I'm surrounded by trees and birds who are tweeting to each other all day long on their own Twitter!

    The tweeting changes according to what's going on in their vicinity ~ you should hear them when old Shadow the next door's cat goes on the prowl.

    "May day! May day! May day!"

    And what about all those lovely sounds dolphins make, to communicate with one another?

    So nope ... I think we'll have to go back to the drawing board!
    Well..... maybe.... but that would assume that those things are languages? As opposed to oral communication...

    So I am going to just quote a chunk a piece from wikipedia which I think is more articulate then me:

    Although some other animals make use of quite sophisticated communicative systems, and these are sometimes casually referred to as animal language, none of these are known to make use of all of the properties that linguists use to define language in the strict sense.

    When discussed more technically as a general phenomenon then, "language" always implies a particular type of human thought which can be present even when communication is not the result, and this way of thinking is also sometimes treated as indistinguishable from language itself.

    In Western Philosophy for example, language has long been closely associated with reason, which is also a uniquely human way of using symbols. In Ancient Greek philosophical terminology, the same word, logos, was used as a term for both language or speech and reason, and the philosopher Thomas Hobbes used the English word "speech" so that it similarly could refer to reason, as will be discussed below.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language
    I certainly buy into that as a key difference between animals and humans - language wise. So maybe complex language + cognition = us on top of the evolution tree...

    What do you think?

    Skies!

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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    Hmmm, interesting stuff, Skies.

    I'm going to respond with three recent stories:

    The first one is that researchers have discovered that human language is based on music (originally chanting) which was based on birdsong. I think you'll find it quite fascinating.

    You can read it here:

    The Language of Birds

    The second one is that researchers found that corvids (crows etc) were more intelligent that primates (us?)

    You can read it here:

    Scientists say "Corvids as intelligent as primates"

    The third one is new ~ I noticed when I was trawling around yesterday, as this research has just been published. It finds that monkeys do think about thinking, or using thought to problem solve, which I think is perhaps what you mean by reasoning? Another term they're using is metacognition.

    Animals think about thinking

    Some animals are more thoughtful than others, according to a comparative psychologist who says evidence is mounting that dolphins, macaque monkeys and other animals share our ability to reflect upon, monitor or regulate their states of mind.

    J. David Smith of the University at Buffalo notes that humans are capable of metacognition, or thinking about thinking. "Humans can feel uncertainty. They know when they do not know or remember, and they respond well to uncertainty by deferring response and seeking information," Smith writes in the September issue of the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

    And accumulating research, he says, suggests metacognition is not unique to humans.

    "The idea is that some minds have a cognitive executive that can look in on the human's or the animal's thoughts and problem-solving and look at how its going and see if there are ways to guide it or if behavior needs to pause while more information is obtained," Smith told LiveScience.

    Robert Hampton, assistant professor of psychology at Emory University in Georgia, who studies neuroscience and animal behavior, agrees that some animals show metacognition.

    "Work with primates has shown many parallels with human metacognitive performance," said Hampton, who was not involved in the current review study. "In particular, some of the studies done by Dr. Smith and colleagues have shown close correspondence between the performance of humans and monkeys in nearly identical metacognitive tests."

    Testing metacognition in humans is a relative walk in the park, as we can verbalize our feelings of knowing or not knowing. But animals can show off their mental skills without words. For instance, scientists give animals difficult perceptual tasks, such as deciding whether a box on a screen contained thousands of dots or just a few. The animals also have an out: They can decline the trial and avoid a penalty for a wrong response.

    The original experiment showing such mental abilities in a non-human animal involved the dolphin Natua. "When uncertain, the dolphin clearly hesitated and wavered between his two possible responses," Smith said. "But when certain, he swam toward his chosen response so fast that his bow wave would soak the researchers' electronic switches."

    "The opposite would be they just react to the world," Smith said. That's exactly what studies on pigeons have shown. When in doubt, the birds just plow ahead, it seems.

    Several converging studies now show that capuchin monkeys barely express the cognitive ability that dolphins have expressed, though similar studies of macaque monkeys suggests these primates do think about thinking.

    Smith said perhaps certain branches in the primate order developed metacognitive abilities while others didn't. Another idea is that the relatively big-brained animals, like dolphins, evolved this capacity.

    So even if lowly pigeons don't boast the mental prowess, crows might, he figures. "It would be great to see if the ultimate in bird brains have this capacity as well," Smith said. Other research finds crows to be amazingly smart and adept at tool use.
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  5. #25
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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    Thanks for that Ish.. a lot to digest.. which I will before responding.. although my initial thoughts are still around learning and language and cognition as a killer combination. With respect to the birdies in your garden.....they well indeed be saying
    mayday, mayday...there's a cat...
    in birdie tweet talk...but what they are not doing is saying...
    hey guys...the cat always turns up on a sunday...lets go elsewhere today...


    But here is an interesting diversion on the subject.. Richard Wrangham a primatologist has written a book called - Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human...There is an article about it today in the Times.

    The book argues that human ancestors learned to tame fire and cook food over a million years ago and this was important in our evolution. The cooking of food made digestion easier allowing the early cooks to evolve smaller guts and larger brains. Cooking increased the calorific value of our food, It Changed our bodies, our brains, our use of time and our social lives.



    One of his quotes is:
    If you feed a chimp cooked food for tens of thousands of years, I find it hard to believe that it would end up looking like the same animal.
    Here is the bulk of the article:

    For we are the “cooking ape”, according to Richard Wrangham, a noted British anthropologist and primatologist at Harvard University. The unrivalled success of the human species is down to our mastery of flame and our use of it to transform raw food into cooked. Ours is a species built on hot dinners, not cold plants and berries. The theory is cold comfort for the raw food movement, which believes that it is natural and healthier to eat uncooked food.

    “I believe the transformative moment that gave rise to the genus Homo, one of the great transitions in the history of life, stemmed from the control of fire and the advent of cooked meals,” Wrangham explains in his new book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. “Cooking increased the (calorific) value of our food. It changed our bodies, our brains, our use of time and our social lives.” He argues, as no one else has done before, that cooking was pivotal in our evolution. “If you feed a chimp cooked food for tens of thousands of years, I find it hard to believe that it would end up looking like the same animal.”

    From this, he infers that, for our ancestors, marriages of men and women were ancient pacts built around food, not sex.

    It was while lying in front of a fire, preparing a lecture, that Wrangham felt his intellect spark. “I started to wonder how long ago our ancestors had lain at night without fire. It didn’t make sense to me that our ancestors could have existed without fire. I’d spent time watching chimps and even eating their food, which is mainly fruit and a little meat, all raw. This is difficult stuff to eat. It’s like going into the forest and trying to fill up on rosehips — it’s not food. You might find something delicious such as a raspberry, but you usually can’t find many.”

    He began to wonder whether our ance — tors could ever have filled their bellies enough on a raw diet to survive, reproduce and evolve into us. Our ancestors, he surmised, must have been cooking — and that meant they needed fire. A mastery of fire would also have allowed them to come down from the trees and sleep on the ground; fire would not only have provided an ancestral security light, but also a weapon against predators.

    Cultural, historical and culinary clues point to the plausibility of Wrangham’s intuition. There is no society on Earth that does not cook; not a single people exists on raw food alone. The most remote hunter-gatherer tribes might not have microwaves, but they still pack beans in hot rocks. While the idea of modern humans as carnivores is well-established, our bodies cannot fend off toxins and bacteria found in raw meat, as you would expect if we had evolved to eat it uncooked. It is incredibly hard for us to bite into and digest raw tubers, such as potatoes. And there are no reliable accounts of survivors lasting for more than a couple of months on raw food; even the survivors of the 1972 Andes plane crash are reported to have cooked their fellow passengers before eating them.

    Nobody, though, had ever explicitly considered that human beings might owe their spectacular success as a species to their unique propensity to cook. And, to Wrangham’s amazement, the scientific debate about how human beings started using fire had never broached the issue of cooking.

    “I couldn’t believe that nobody had thought about the energetic significance of cooked food [cooking releases locked-in calories by breaking down molecular structures in plants and meat; without cooking, some material passes straight through]. As someone who’s been in the bush enough to appreciate a cooked meal, I had a very strong intuition that cooking was crucial to our evolution. I’m now convinced that cooking made us human. It was the biggest improvement in diet in the history of life.”

    Cooking would have made a radical difference to the creatures who mastered it: it made plants and meat more calorie-dense; it spared our ancestors from the marathons of mastication required with raw foods (wild chimps spend up to five hours a day gathering food and chewing it); it was easier on the gut. It is utterly within the bounds of belief that the first hominid to put a flame to his food started an extraordinary chain of evolutionary events that culminated in us, the ape in the kitchen.

    But Wrangham, who co-wrote Demonic Males, a groundbreaking book on ape violence and its relevance to human violence, strides farther: the advent of cooking led to a restructuring of society and, in particular, liberated men from the chore of chewing but chained women to the stove.

    Early human marriages, he suggests, were “primitive protection rackets”, in which men protected women from hungry marauders (attracted by the smoke of the fire) in return for a hot meal at the end of the day and, almost as an afterthought, babies. This is a radical notion — that domestic unions are mainly about food, not sex — but it’s not ridiculous. Anthropolo- gists have noted that many primitive societies will tolerate a married woman sleeping around, but will ostracise her if she feeds any man other than her husband. In the ancestral struggle for survival, it seems, sustenance was more important than sex.

    Human beings are unique in that when we cook, we do it to feed others as well as ourselves (other apes, even those who pair-bond, forage for themselves and don’t share). And in almost all societies it’s women who tend the stove. Having a husband ensures that a woman’s gathered food will not be stolen, while having a wife means a man will have an evening meal.

    To some, though, this train of thought — that the way to a man’s heart really is through his evolutionarily shrunken stomach — is even more heretical than the idea that we are the cooking ape. “People don’t like it because over the past decades we have understood that our social system comes through the competition for reproductive partners. I’m saying, pair bonds are firstly about food, and that gave a platform to develop those relationships further.”

    Wrangham, who is largely vegetarian (“I don’t eat mammals but occasionally I’ll have a bird, but never a parrot”), was thrilled when he came across the work of the anthropologists Jane Collier and Michelle Rosaldo that exposed the marital dynamics around food in different, small-scale societies. “It’s clear that many societies are more tolerant of sexual messing about than they are of a domestic arrangement being upset (such as an intrusion during a family mealtime).”

    It is true that we are remarkably fussy about the way we eat: there is a strict table etiquette, a pattern to the handouts (husbands often receive the best meat) and it is regarded as a social sin to interrupt a mealtime, even if it’s sandwiches at a desk.

    “It’s hard for us to understand the importance of food because, for us, food is easy,” Wrangham says. “We can buy it and we can get preprepared meals. This is not the case for the majority of the world. In some societies, it really matters to a husband that he can come back to a meal cooked by his wife.

    Not that Wrangham’s wife cooks: “We’re housemasters for a Harvard college, so we hardly ever cook. We eat with the students most nights. I’ve often looked at them and wondered whether I should be studying them, as well as the chimpanzees. We’ve come to see food as a way to explore pleasure, as cuisine, to be enjoyed. That’s not how our ancestors saw it. For them, food was a way to survive and have babies.”
    Somehow I find it a reassuring theory but then I do like food a lot....... god darn it...that means I am still evolviing

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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    Where's the evidence for the shrunken gut?

    Roy.
    First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt

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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    This ....


    Early human marriages, he suggests, were “primitive protection rackets”, in which men protected women from hungry marauders (attracted by the smoke of the fire) in return for a hot meal at the end of the day and, almost as an afterthought, babies. This is a radical notion — that domestic unions are mainly about food, not sex — but it’s not ridiculous. Anthropolo- gists have noted that many primitive societies will tolerate a married woman sleeping around, but will ostracise her if she feeds any man other than her husband. In the ancestral struggle for survival, it seems, sustenance was more important than sex....
    ....reminds me of the saying that what a man really wants is a madonna in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom.

    Of course, where I always went wrong was that I was always a madonna in the bedroom and a whore in the kitchen.
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  8. #28
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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    Quote Originally Posted by Digit
    Where's the evidence for the shrunken gut?

    Roy.
    Cant find anything useful on that specifically.... other than this reference source (whole place is interesting)

    http://www.naturalhub.com/opinion_ri...nt%20hominoids

    Quote from it:

    The human gut reflects dependance on vegetable food, in particular, relatively non fibrous food. The human colon has the pouched structure typical of herbivores. The large intestine is distensible to accomodate bulk, and relatively long. The human colon absorbs water in food and supports the bacterial fermentation of 'fibrous' plant material, absorbing further energy from ferment products (volatile short-chain fatty acids). We can dismiss significant carnivory as an important factor in human evolution by considering food transit time in the gut. The human gut transit time for food is similar to the frugi-folivorous chimpanzee - about 38 to 48 hours. In contrast, carnivores have a much shorter transit time, from 2.4 to 26 hours (varying with species). In addition, their stomach comprises about 60-70% of their digestive tract volume, in contrast to the omnivorous but plant food 'signatured' humans, whose stomach is about 21-27% of total digestive tract volume
    So compared to carnivores...its shrunken????

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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    Compare with carnivores it's smaller, the wording in the tract infers that it was once larger.

    Roy.
    First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt

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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    So..
    That is why vegans are so skinny while us meat and potato people are thicker?

    I would have to say that the three most important things in human history were:

    Clothing
    It allows us to be comfortable in bad weather and thus start to live in places of the Earth with that bad weather.

    Fire
    It allows us to both cook and have a warm place to sleep in those places with bad weather.

    Writing
    It allows us to pass on knowledge over both time and space.

    But IQ is a very human concept.
    It is only meant to measure differences between humans.
    It has no meaning in the non-human world.

    When we are looking for evolution, and presumably that means some kind of “progress,” why are we ignoring the 2/3 of the planet that is water?

    Just because water animals don’t wear clothes, use fire, or write things down?
    That seems very arbitrary on our part.
    We needed them, but why would others?
    What if they were able to get along just fine without them?
    Would that mean they were dumber or smarter?

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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    That's a good point KBs! Only humans do measure differences with IQ...Why do we set such store by someone's IQ?...Is it really because that person who has a high IQ is seen as a better or more useful person to society?..Is it a way to discriminate by dividing people into groups ie. highly intelligent, average intelligence, low intelligence?
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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    I think it's time for N'kisi the parrot.



    N'kisi is an African Grey Parrot who exhibits apparently advanced English usage skills and other abilities.

    According to news reports and websites,[1] [2] as of January 2004, N'kisi had a vocabulary of about 950 words and used them in context, frequently in complete sentences, has approximated verb forms to maintain the correct tense (such as saying flied when not knowing the past tense of fly), and does not depend on learned phrases to communicate his thoughts. According to these sources, N'kisi is capable of understanding photographic images, and is able to name objects (within his vocabulary) appearing in a photo. He is also said to be capable of inventing new terms for things he does not know words for. One anecdote recounted by the chimpanzee scientist Jane Goodall[3] says that, upon meeting her in person after seeing a photo of her, N'Kisi asked, "Got a chimp?" It is claimed he demonstrates what appears to be a sense of humor.

    N'kisi has also taken part in a published scientific study of telepathic abilities. The researchers who conducted the study claimed the results to present a statistically significant indication of ability, while the study [4] has been criticized by skeptics. There is also some controversy about whether parrots are capable of using language, or merely mimic what they hear. Some scientific studies -- for example those conducted over a 30-year period by Irene Pepperberg with an African Grey named Alex and other parrots, which have been covered in stories on network television on numerous occasions [5] -- have suggested that these parrots are capable of using words meaningfully in linguistic tasks, and scientists are now beginning to recognize the intelligence of parrots.[6]
    Here's a conversation with N'kisi ~ you can hear it here.

    Aimee: Ok, ya ready? (Aimee pushes button, toy says 'square' and makes music.)

    N'Kisi: (Enthusiastic tone) That's so cool!

    Aimee: Isn't it?

    N'Kisi: Can ya hear(music is playing)There's a square.

    (Aimee pushes button again; toy says 'square')

    N'Kisi: Lemme try (? illegible). Look, there's a square!

    (Aimee pushes button again; toy says 'square')

    N'Kisi: Can you see that?

    Aimee: Yeah!

    N'Kisi: Look!

    Aimee: Isn't it cool?

    N'Kisi: (sound). Lemme (? illegible) the turquoise. (referentiality unknown; toy has many colors on it.)
    Wow, there's a square.

    (Aimee pushes button again, toy says 'square')

    N'Kisi: Lemme write there's a little square. (Aimee pushes button again.) Old Madonna,
    E-I-O quack quack quack, here a quack there; there a quack, there a quack.
    Lemme show you. Look at the square.
    (Aimee holds toy up to cage so that N'Kisi can push the buttons.
    N'Kisi selects the 'square' button (out of several possible buttons) and pushes it; toy says 'square'.)

    N'Kisi: Listen!

    Aimee: Isn't that cool?

    (N'Kisi pushes button again, toy says 'square')

    N'Kisi: List...

    Aimee: Wow!

    (Aimee pushes the button; toy says 'square')

    N'Kisi: Wow! there's a me...

    Aimee: You like that?

    N'Kisi: There's a square.

    Aimee: Yeah.

    N'Kisi: Can ya hear (makes cat-like mew sound)

    Aimee: Ya wanna hear the kitty? Listen.

    (Aimee pushes other button on toy; it makes meow sound and mewing music.)

    N'Kisi: (laughter.)

    Aimee: (laughter)

    N'Kisi: That's so cool!

    Aimee: Isn't it?

    N'Kisi: Could push the button.

    Aimee: Yeah.

    N'Kisi: You could try-angle. (word play, due to grammatical context)

    Aimee: OK. (Aimee pushes another button, toy says 'triangle'.) See? (pushes it again, 'triangle').

    N'Kisi: Look at the square.

    (Aimee pushes the button that says 'square'.)

    N'Kisi: There's a square.

    Aimee: Yeah. (Aimee pushes it again; toy says 'square'.)

    N'Kisi: Star.

    Aimee: OK. (Aimee pushes another button on toy, it says 'star'.)

    N'Kisi: Sta... (whistle).

    (Aimee pushes button again; toy says 'star'.)

    N'Kisi: You pushed the button.

    Aimee: I did, I pushed it!

    ****NOTE:
    It is important to remember that N'Kisi is only 4 years old, and his species has a lifespan similar to humans. He has been receiving teaching in the use of Human Language for 4 years, and his current contextual vocabulary is over 700 words. He spends hours daily in spontaneous conversations and teaching sessions with Aimee. (When teaching, Aimee repeats new words and concepts, so N'kisi's speeech in these sessions tends to be more repetitive than during their normal conversations.) Aimee's work with N'kisi is communication oriented, rather than task oriented, and no behaviorist training techniques have been used (such as rewards for the production of desired responses). Instead, Nkisi has been encouraged to use language as he chooses, for his own purposes of communication and self expression.
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  13. #33
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    Default Re: DNA....the old chestnut about chimpanzee....

    Skies,

    Did you see that your question in your opening post has been answered in yesterday's news story: Kiss the Missing Link Goodbye ?
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