Intelligence can be defined as the ability to solve novel problems. In other words, many examples of “animal intelligence” wouldn’t count because of the limited range of situations within which they are able to act. Examples might include squirrels caching nuts and finding them again or the ability of drongos to mimic the alarm calls of meerkats to scare them off and steal their food. A true demonstration of intelligence requires that an animal be able to solve a problem with which it has no familiarity. The kea is an example of an animal that has a remarkable capacity to do just this (h/t Jerry Coyne):
I co-authored a paper with Tom Sherratt at Carleton University a few months ago and we have received a bit of attention in the press (Washington Post blog, Scientific American, the Ottawa Sun, the heady heights of the Carleton University newspaper…). As pretty much everyone has offered their views on the paper based on the press coverage (which has been pretty good but not perfect…), I had better set the record straight!
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