Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A new look at the "bird-brain"

I used to think chickens were stupid. Take a look at this:

Leading animal behavior scientists from across the globe now tell us that chickens are inquisitive and interesting animals whose cognitive abilities are more advanced than those of cats, dogs, and even some primates. Chickens understand sophisticated intellectual concepts, learn from watching each other, demonstrate self-control, worry about the future, and even have cultural knowledge that is passed from generation to generation. Dr. Chris Evans, who studies animal behavior and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, says, “As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I’m talking about monkeys.”

Chickens comprehend cause-and-effect relationships and understand that objects still exist even after they are hidden from view. This puts the cognitive abilities of chickens above those of small human children. Scientists are so impressed with what we now know about the intellect of chickens and other birds that a group of international experts recently called for a new naming system to reflect the complex, mammal-like structure of avian brains. Dr. Christine Nicol, who studies chicken intelligence, reflected, “They may be ‘bird brains,’ but we need to redefine what we mean by ‘bird brains.’ Chickens have shown us they can do things people didn’t think they could do. There are hidden depths to chickens, definitely.”

Do you have any idea how chickens are treated on factory farms and at slaughter? It is truly horrific.

This is World Vegetarian Week. Even if you don't think you can keep a strict vegetarian diet, how about going vegetarian for just one or two days a week? Every little bit helps!

1 comment:

  1. The only chickens (and turkeys) that are really dumb are the ones that have had everything bred out of them except meat production(they can't even reproduce on their own!). We'll raise a hooplah over using child labor, but are happy to consume animals that lived horrific lives. The U.S. needs to re-evaluate where its food comes from and how it lived. Another book suggestion for you; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Looks at eating locally and knowing where everything came from.


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