|Rio the seal-lion can manipulate symbols and add up - but should we be asking him to?|
Doctor Schusterman's counting sea-lion is the pride of Santa Cruz University.
Schusterman, an animal psychologist, has found seven-year- old Rio to have
of symmetry and transitivity".
Rio, who lives in the university's Sea-Lion Cognitive Laboratory, can work out that if A equals B and B equals C, then C equals A. Rio will also pair up equal symbols, letters and pictures.
No animal has done this before. Not everyone agrees that the advance is a good thing. Lionel Roe, a sea-lion keeper at Chessington Zoo, is one of them. "Sea-lions don't do that in the wild, so the question is whether there's any scientific point in doing it. My personal view is let animals behave in as natural a way as possible."
To Dr Schusterman, Rio's abilities represent "the intelligence of logic that precedes the arrival of language". He likens it to human babies who, before they can speak, "think" using mathematical laws that already inhabit the brain.
Pigeons pick a Picasso even when it's the wrong way up
"I don't know much about art but I know what I like." You may have overheard
someone in a gallery say this,
as they grimace at something nasty and modern. But with a little training
people learn to appreciate the work of, say, the Surrealists, and recognise
paintings of a given artist And so can
Pigeons have been trained to distinguish impressionist works by Monet and
cubist creations by Picasso.