X-Message-Number: 18487
Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 20:40:56 EST
Subject: Bird Brain Bound?


I read both of the posts Mark Post pointed out yesterday (the first being 
his).  Both were good.  The following text from the second is an idea I had 
considered somewhat, but perhaps never so consciously. It is a bit humbling.  
Certainly an argument could be made that there has been degenerative 
evolution regarding uncorrected vision in humans.  In the past, the owner of 
genes for eyes that did not see well would be at a distinct disadvantage; 
such genes would tend to get weeded out of circulation.  This has also been 
an example of direct human manipulation of evolution even over the last 200 
years where we have evolved to have poorer uncorrected eye sight.  I had not 
considered degenerative evolution in brain power though.  But then, this 
might offer an explanation for some of the apparent cognitive powerhouses of 
the past.  On the other hand, I do not yet know if there is an absolute 
direct relationship to brain size and brain power, even though I suspect it 
(fatheads notwithstanding).

"Stringer disagrees, however. 'Evolution goes on all the time. You don't
have to intervene. It is just that it is highly unpredictable. For example,
brain size has decreased over the past 10,000 years. A similar reduction
has also affected our physiques. We are punier and smaller-brained
compared with our ancestors only a few millennia ago. So even though
we might be influenced by evolution, that does not automatically mean
an improvement in our lot."  UNQUOTE

Excerpt pulled from:


By the way, I have been very impressed with my African Gray parrot's ability 
to ad-lib with songs on the stereo.  He does an excellent job of staying in 
time and in the correct key and is particularly good anticipating tempo 
changes and throwing in a good original "licks & riffs" at appropriate times. 
 Probably as good as most people.  If I look up from what I am doing to look 
impressed and tell him he is a "good singer," he accepts the complement with 
pride and proceeds to sing even stronger and more boldly.


D.C. Johnson

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