In March, 2008, National Geographic published an article called “Animal Minds.” In the article, the author Virginia Morell discusses studies in animal intelligence. In particular, she talks about Alex, an African grey parrot that spent thirty years learning human language.
“. . . Under Pepperberg’s patient tutelage, Alex learned how to use his vocal tract to imitate almost one hundred English words, including the sounds for all of these foods, although he calls an apple a “banerry.”
“Apples taste a little bit like bananas to him, and they look a little bit like cherries, so Alex made up that word for them,” Pepperberg said. . . .”
Pretty creative bird to put together his own word for a food based on its taste and appearance. Maybe the bird should go to work for Kool-Aid naming new kids’ drinks.
I find it amazing that many animals–parrots, dogs, apes–have learned to understand human language and use either speech or communication devices to make themselves understood. Have you heard of one human being–other than the fictional Dr. Dolittle–who could communicate in dog, bird or monkey? Nope? Me neither.
I guess that proves it: Animals are smarter than we are.