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Dolphin brain

Richard Hall rhall at uvi.edu
Tue Feb 2 08:49:07 EST 1999

Well done. rlh

At 6:02 PM -0500 2/1/99, Tim Tillman wrote:
>Krakatoa <stephan at ucla.edu> wrote in message
>news:stephan-0102991313120001 at we-24-130-93-57.we.mediaone.net...
>>The fact that you are writing this post is ample evidence that
>>intelligence has in fact increased; humans of 50-200,000 years ago were
>>completely incapable of this behavior or this level of analysis in any
>>way; they would score lower on any intelligence test, even one that was
>>designed for them. There is no legimate intelligence defintion you could
>>use which would not give you that humans today are more intelligent.
>Lacking an encyclopedia at my desk, I resort to Encarta 98 ...
>"intelligence, capacity to learn or to understand. It is generally
>with intellect but is usually differentiated from intellect in practice to
>emphasize ability or efficiency in dealing with concrete situations and in
>profiting intellectually from sensory experience."
>Would you reject this definition of intelligence?  By this definition,
>intelligence is not a measure of accumulated knowledge, but rather as stated
>above a 'capacity to learn or to understand.'  To say that intelligence is
>increasing over time is not measurable, however our say that the amount of
>accumulated knowledge is increasing over time is a given.
>There is no evidence that dolphin populations accumulate knowledge.  What
>skills do they pass on to other generations?  What history?  What lore?
>Great apes and man can teach successive generations.  Great apes are less
>intelligent than man not because man has accumulated his vast amount of
>knowledge, but rather because mankind's capacity to learn is higher, than
>that of the great apes.
>That a kitten seems to know to use a litter box does not imply intelligence.
>That plants exhibit geotropism and phototropism does not imply intelligence.
>That members of species come together for mating does not imply
>>You choose to reject this because you know that human biology probably has
>>not changed much over the same time period, but this is not a good reason
>>reject it. I could take two identical twins, raise one in an isolated
>>impoverished prison, and the other at Oxford, and the Oxford raised twin
>>would be MUCH MORE intelligent than the one raised in a prison. I don't
>>think I need to repeat this point.
>Just as you may take orphaned identical twins from a third world country,
>raise one on a subsistance diet, the other on standard American fair.  The
>child raised in America will be stronger, taller, and overall healthier.  In
>the twins is is the genetic capacity, analogous to intelligence, to grow
>strong.  This capacity is only exploited in the environment that can support
>it.  In your case above, both have the inate capacity to learn.  But only in
>the Oxford sibling is that capacity exploited.  Therefore, they are of equal
>>Some traits that contribute intelligence are heritable, these components
>>probably include genes which contribute to the ability to learn.
>And some genetic defects are detrimental to the ability to learn.
>>I would argue there is already very good evidence that the abililtiy to
>learn can
>>strongly affect reproductive fitness, ergo, natural selection has probably
>>favored them.  The fact that these learning mechanisms are so highly
>>conserved in the entire phylum (e.g., CREB) suggests that they are very
>>strongly associated with fitness.

Richard Hall
Comparative Animal Physiologist
Division of Sciences and Mathematics
University of the Virgin Islands
St. Thomas, USVI  00802

rhall at uvi.edu

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