Intelligent Animal Antics

Psalm 71:17
“O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.”

While debate continues about whether chimps can actually learn to communicate with language, there is little question that they understand simple sentences. However, this doesn’t prove any relationship between man and apes. Research shows that dolphins and sea lions can also learn language. Researchers used the same methods to get people and pigeons to memorize a string of numbers. They found that people can usually remember no more Animal Anticsthan nine numbers in a sequence; pigeons can remember five. They also discovered that pigeons, like people, memorize lists by grouping together similar elements in the list.

Scientists always thought that the plover’s “wounded wing” display was an instinctual reflex to lead predators away from its young. New research shows that the birds behave differently, depending on whether they are familiar with an intruder and know if the intruder is a true threat. It’s been discovered that dolphins try to hide from tuna boats by not jumping when a tuna boat is near. If this doesn’t work, dolphins will swim on the right side of the boat because the cranes and nets are usually on the left side.

As one scientist put it, animals are as smart as they need to be, no more and no less. When God made the animals, He was generous with something He has an unlimited amount of – intelligence.

I thank You, Lord, that You are generous with all Your gifts. Forgive me for those times when I have misused or belittled the intelligence You have given me. Help me to better use my intelligence to spread Your kingdom. Amen.

Shannon Brownlee. 1985. “A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery.” Discover, Oct., pp. 85-93. Photo: Snowy plover.