The cognitive prowess of birds deemed to be ever closer to that of humans

Why am I talking about birds? Well, there’s an article in a newspaper today saying that pigeons are far more intelligent than previously thought and that they can have abstract thoughts. They are not ‘bird brains’ but can understand space and time according to a new study. Researchers concluded that pigeons use a common area of the brain to judge space and time suggesting that these abstract concepts are not processed separately.

The findings add to the growing recognition amongst the scientific community that the lower order animal species are capable of high-level abstract decision-making. Edward Wasserman of the University of Iowa said:

“The cognitive prowess of birds is now deemed to be ever closer to that of both human and nonhuman primates. Those avian nervous systems are capable of far greater achievements than the pejorative term ‘bird brain’ would suggest”.

I’m interested in the cognitive prowess of animals. The more we learn about it the more we realise that they are more intelligent and more capable than we had previously thought. This can only lead to one outcome in the human to animal relationship: better animal welfare. I am very interested in animal welfare. There is a need to improve it. We need to understand that animals are sentient beings with feelings and cognitive abilities beyond which we had previously thought.

The laws are generally in place to protect animals from cruelty and abuse. The difficulty is in ensuring that the law is enforced. At present in both the UK and the USA there is a clear sign that there is lack of commitment towards enforcing animal welfare laws. This a general comment but it is something that I’ve noticed over many years of reading articles on animal welfare issues.

Source: Times Newspaper 5th Dec 2017

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