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March 21, 2019 - Medium

Recognizing non-human intelligence

Recognizing non-human intelligence
Credit: David ClodeFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Intelligence is not as rare as we like to believe.

My changing point of view all started with a chance glimpse of a book spine at the library. The title was, “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal. I laughed. I didn’t pick it up or read it, but the title stuck with me, and I started to consider the question.

Once I started looking for it, evidence of animal intelligence was everywhere. See, for example, this excellent article by Jonathan Balcombe in Nautilus, “Fish Can Be Smarter than Primates.” Watch any episode of Planet Earth or Blue Planet, and you will be stunned by the number of species that use tools or join forces with others to coordinate effort toward a common goal.

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