The News -
as recorded by someone who has little or no interest in what is going on in the outside world....
Friday, 26 September 2008
Magpies are no bird brains
LONDON (Reuters - By Ben Hirschler) - Magpies can recognise themselves in a mirror, highlighting the mental skills of some birds and confounding the notion that self-awareness is the exclusive preserve of humans and a few higher mammals.
It had been thought only chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants shared the human ability to recognise their own bodies in a mirror. But German scientists reported on Tuesday that magpies -- a species with a brain structure very different from mammals -- could also identify themselves.
"It shows that the line leading to humans is not as special as many thought," lead researcher Helmut Prior of the Institute of Psychology at Goethe University in Frankfurt told Reuters.
"After finding this kind of intelligence in apes, many people thought it had developed once in one evolutionary line with humans at the end. The bird studies show it has developed at least twice."
The discovery of self-awareness in magpies follows a 2002 study in which a crow stunned researchers with its tool-making skills, by twisting a wire into a hook to lift food from a tube. Prior and his colleagues tested their magpies by marking the birds' bodies with a red or yellow dot that could only be seen in a mirror. They found the birds regularly scratched the mark on their body, proving they recognised the image in the mirror as themselves and not another animal. To ensure they were actually seeing and reacting to the mark, and not just investigating what had been done to them, a "sham" black mark was used as a control that was invisible on the birds' dark feathers.
This is a cheat's blog; a coward's blog. I have taken the conscious decision that it will not be about a world in chaos. The real news which has an impact on the lives of millions is that in which the Four Horsemen appear - war, famine, conquest and death - or in which the Gods have taken it upon themselves to punish folk through natural disasters and disease.... I shall leave such headlines to the BBC and Sky News. Not all my posts will be positive by any means but I readily acknowledge that I have made no attempt to give a balanced view of the news that is genuinely important in this world.
Thanks for stopping by! Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? And please, sit for a spell. If you enjoy my posts, please feel free to follow me or subscribe to my blog. This is a word verification free, family friendly blog, so everything I share here is for all ages. I am a happily married man in my late sixties who lives on the Wirral peninsula, near Liverpool, in the UK.
I'm a blogger - and nowadays that seems to be my main occupation. Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. There is a saying in Sweden "man måste vara frisk för att orka vara sjuk" ~ "you have to be well to cope with being ill"....
I enjoy most forms of communication and postcards are a special favourite. I used to blog as Scriptor Senex which is Latin for Old Writer but now Google only lets me post as John Edwards.
“He’s not so old. He’s just the age that he is, that’s all.” (Gerald Hammond)