the liver and the brain

r norman rsn_ at _comcast.net
Sat Sep 4 14:39:57 EST 2004

On Sat, 04 Sep 2004 18:20:33 GMT, lesterDELzick at worldnet.att.net
(Lester Zick) wrote:

>On 4 Sep 2004 09:35:30 -0700, feedbackdroids at yahoo.com (dan michaels)
>in comp.ai.philosophy wrote:


>> ...  my question regards the level of development of
>>perceptual systems at the time of birth in precocial ungulates ...

>>It's a fairly interesting problem in its own right, since a baby zebra
>>has to be ready to flee from a lion shortly after birth, if it ever
>>wants to get to be an adult zebra. To flee from a lion, it might help
>>to be able to distinquish one from a parent zebra, so upon seeing its
>>own parent, it doesn't go running off into the jaws of the nearest
>>lion. I guess it's conceivable the adult zebra would be able to
>>"teach" its baby what a lion is in the first hour or so, or that the
>>baby learns on its own the first time a lion comes to eat it. Operant
>>conditioning rules, so long as the organism makes it through the first
>>day against something 10X its size and power, not to mention the big
>The baby zebra wouldn't have to learn to discriminate lions. It would
>just have to learn to stay with its mother, a much easier task for
>which it is presumably born pretty much ready.
>Regards - Lester

You are right in questioning the specific behavioral capabilities
needed for a newborn to survive.  Still, putting aside the particular
focus on ungulates and on recognition of predators as a specific
animals and behaviors there are still very interesting scientific
questions behind all this.  Exactly what are the differences in brain
development and function between precocial and altricial animals?  To
what extent does a reliance on learning vs. instinct play a role in
the behavioral repertoire of precocial vs.altricial animals?  

I would only just repeat here something I have been trying to say for
some time now.  These differences are well known and well recognized
as reproductive strategies with important implications for ecology,
evolution, ethology, and development. There is a rather extensive
literature about these, although not specifically about the ability of
ungulates to recognize predators.

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