Animal behavior has long been a battleground between the competing claims of nature and nurture, with the possible role of cognition in behavior as a recent addition to this debate. There is an untapped trove of behavioral data that can tell us a great deal about how the animals draw from these neural strategies: The structures animals build provide a superb window on the workings of the animal mind.
Animal Architects examines animal architecture across a range of species, from those whose blueprints are largely innate (such as spiders and their webs) to those whose challenging structures seem to require intellectual insight, planning, and even aesthetics (such as bowerbirds’ nests, or beavers’ dams).
Beginning with instinct and the simple homes of solitary insects, James and Carol Gould move on to conditioning; the “cognitive map” and how it evolved; and the role of planning and insight. Finally, they reflect on what animal building tells us about the nature of human intelligence-showing why humans, unlike many animals, need to build castles in the air.
Alex & Me (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $9.99)
On September 6, 2007, an African Grey parrot named Alex died prematurely at age thirty-one. His last words to his owner, Irene Pepperberg, were “You be good. I love you.”
What would normally be a quiet, very private event was, in Alex’s case, headline news. Over the thirty years they had worked together, Alex and Irene had become famous—two pioneers who opened an unprecedented window into the hidden yet vast world of animal minds. Alex’s brain was the size of a shelled walnut, and when Irene and Alex first met, birds were not believed to possess any potential for language, consciousness, or anything remotely comparable to human intelligence. Yet, over the years, Alex proved many things. He could add. He could sound out words. He understood concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none. He was capable of thought and intention. Together, Alex and Irene uncovered a startling reality: We live in a world populated by thinking, conscious creatures.
The fame that resulted was extraordinary. Yet there was a side to their relationship that never made the papers. They were emotionally connected to one another. They shared a deep bond far beyond science. Alex missed Irene when she was away. He was jealous when she paid attention to other parrots, or even people. He liked to show her who was boss. He loved to dance. He sometimes became bored by the repetition of his tests, and played jokes on her. Sometimes they sniped at each other. Yet nearly every day, they each said, “I love you.”
Alex and Irene stayed together through thick and thin—despite sneers from experts, extraordinary financial sacrifices, and a nomadic existence from one university to another. The story of their thirty-year adventure is equally a landmark of scientific achievement and of an unforgettable human-animal bond.
Based on award-winning scientist Marc Bekoff’s years studying social communication in a wide range of species, this important book shows that animals have rich emotional lives.
Bekoff skillfully blends extraordinary stories of animal joy, empathy, grief, embarrassment, anger, and love with the latest scientific research confirming the existence of emotions that common sense and experience have long implied.
Filled with Bekoff’s light humor and touching stories, The Emotional Lives of Animals is a clarion call for reassessing both how we view animals and how we treat them.
Heinrich involves us in his quest to get inside the mind of the raven. But as animals can only be spied on by getting quite close, Heinrich adopts ravens, thereby becoming a “raven father,” as well as observing them in their natural habitat. He studies their daily routines, and in the process, paints a vivid picture of the ravens’ world. At the heart of this book are Heinrich’s love and respect for these complex and engaging creatures, and through his keen observation and analysis, we become their intimates too.
Heinrich’s passion for ravens has led him around the world in his research. Mind of the Raven follows an exotic journey—from New England to Germany, and from Montana to Baffin Island in the high Arctic—offering dazzling accounts of how science works in the field, filtered through the eyes of a passionate observer of nature. Each new discovery and insight into raven behavior is thrilling to read, at once lyrical and scientific.
“In a book that demonstrates the rewards of caring and careful observation of the natural world, Heinrich (Ravens in Winter, etc.), a noted biologist, Guggenheim fellow and National Book Award nominee (for Bumblebee Economics, 1979), explores the question of raven intelligence through observation, experiment and personal experience.” – Publishers Weekly
For readers of Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz, this New York Times bestseller offers mesmerizing insights into the interior lives of our smartest pets
In the past decade, we have learned more about how dogs think than in the last century. Breakthroughs in cognitive science, pioneered by Brian Hare, have proven dogs have a kind of genius for getting along with people that is unique in the animal kingdom. This dog genius revolution is transforming how we live and work with our canine friends, including how we train them.
Does your dog feel guilt? Is she pretending she can’t hear you? Does she want affection—or just your sandwich? In The Genius of Dogs, Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods lay out what discoveries at the Duke Canine Cognition Lab and other research facilities around the world are revealing about how your dog thinks and how we humans can have even deeper relationships with our best four-legged friends.
Books about cat intelligence are very hard to come by, because cats are extremely independent and largely lack the people-pleasing drive of dogs and therefore make terrible test subjects. But if there’s one thing that can prove a house cat’s intelligence, it’s the ability to toilet train them!
KF on KND Editor’s Note: This really is possible, though it definitely takes some patience and lots of consistency. I myself have toilet-trained a pet cat in the past, and my daughter’s cat is also currently toilet-trained. You’re looking at about a month of training, with at least a little backsliding somewhere in there, but once the cat is trained you’re done with litter and its odors forever.
We recently toilet trained our little ball of fur, Princess Peanut, & now enjoy a litter-box free home. It’s less smelly, we save money, and there are no arguments about who has to clean the [dirty] cat sandpit each day. The best part about all of this is that we completed the entire process in less than 3 months! We’re so proud of our little Princess Peanut that we want to share our experiences with you.
So What Will YOU Learn?
Cat Toilet Training can be broken down into 7 KEY STEPS, & you’ll find each one right here in this book. We’ll explain what each step entails, including instructions along the way. You will need to prepare your resources with plenty of cat treats, flushable kitty litter and a progressive training kit available at pet stores and on Amazon.com.