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The Smartest Animals on the Planet: Extraordinary Tales of the Natural World's Cleverest Creaturesby Sally Boysen
Synopses & Reviews
How animals communicate and learn — sometimes better than humans do, actually.
This fascinating book, written by a world authority on animal intelligence, brings together the cumulative research on the comparative intelligence levels of nonhuman smart species. Sally Boysen reveals how these intelligent animals communicate, learn behavior, show feelings and emotions and, for some species, how they use tools, count and sometimes pick up a foreign language.
Fully illustrated with photographs and step-by-step graphics, the book draws on data from historical and current experiments and observations to examine intelligence in the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans) and in a surprising list of other species, including sea otters, eagles, elephants, dolphins, birds, bees, beetles, rats, raccoons and parrots.
The book's chapters are:
Comparing Animal Skills and IntelligenceAnimal Tool UseCommunication in AnimalsImitation and Social LearningSocial Cognition and EmotionSelf-recognition and AwarenessNumerical Abilities in AnimalsAnimals and Human Nonverbal Language.
The Smartest Animals on the Planet is a beautiful, authoritative and up-to-date presentation on the remarkable intelligence of the animal kingdom.
"The first studies of animal intelligence focused on chimps, gorillas and orangutans, simply because humans assumed intelligence was the province of higher primates; other species, it was thought, acted through instinct. Then twentieth century field biologists began reporting observations of problem-solving in many other species: bees dancing to convey pollen locations, whales using complex sounds to communicate across entire ocean basins, crows using sticks to pull grubs from tree bark, salamanders differentiating between smaller and larger food sources. Each animal is placed into one of seven categories-tool making and use, communication, learned social behaviors, individual self-awareness, numerical ability, language learning and group cooperation/mutual protection-though they clearly overlap, showing how animals place on different axes of intelligence (a dolphin exhibits tool use and learned culture skills when showing her pup how to fish with a sponge). Vibrant color photographs and diagrams illustrate species and behavioral sequences like the different facial cues of baboons (the 'kings of expression'). Clearly-written text is aimed primarily at adults, but suitable for middle school and advanced elementary school students (with help from the included glossary). An ideal family gift, this should also find use in the classroom." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Following an introduction to scientists' debates over what constitutes intelligence in humans and animals from ants to whales, an expert on chimpanzee cognition (PhD, Ohio State U.) presents a comparative cognition approach to various animal species' use of tools, communication, social learning, mirror self- recognition, numerical abilities, and cooperation and altruism. Chapters on each species discussed include a map of its natural habitat, sometimes surprising study findings, unanswered questions, and color photographs. The book includes a glossary and contribution by another primate expert, but no references or further reading. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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