I like this story, reported today by Reuters, because it bears out what my wife and I have observed in our budding hobby of breeding canaries.
We already knew that birds are not bird-brained, meaning stupid, and now scientists are finding that this is indeed true.
One hundred years ago, it was established by science that a bird’s brain is mostly basal ganglia, which controls primitive brain function and behavioral instinct.
Now scientists are saying that birds’ brains more closely resemble those of humans, and have evolved cognitive abilities far more complex than in many mammals.
Studies and tests have shown that birds, according to their grouping, can
Use tools, use songs, and imitate human language to communicate.
They can also count, and they can lie, too – a pigeon can be taught to do something that will cause another pigeon to get food for a reward (are these accountant and lawyer birds?).
This study, we are told, will give us more insight into the functioning of the human brain, and there is interest in using birds as models for learning and development, and travel, and social behavior.
“A lot went into trying to support the idea of a human’s place in the evolutionary scheme of animals. They didn’t follow Darwin’s view that evolution was a tree,” one scientist said.
“They tried to link it to religion — a linear system where God created one creature, not good enough, then created another creature, not good enough, and then created humans — perfect,” he added.
“It was a beautiful story but it wasn’t true.”
I think most of us knew this already.