CLEVER AS A FOX: Animal Intelligence and What It Can Teach Us About Ourselves

Sonja I. Yoerg, Author CLEVER AS A FOX: Animal Intelligence and What It Can Teach $24.95 (324p) ISBN 978-1-58234-115-6

By questioning our inadequate traditional definitions of intelligence, ethologist Yoerg, project director for the Captive Breeding Program at the University of California, leads the reader through a lively, literate book, loaded with case studies, on animal behavior, intellect and instinct. Too often, he argues, our perceptions and understanding of animals, and our feelings for and against their different ilk, are linked to cultural prejudices. We have an affinity for those we deem closer to us on the evolutionary ladder, and tend to grant primates and other mammals a higher degree of understanding and emotion than other orders of animals. Birds, reptiles, amphibians, arachnids and insects are too often perceived merely as instinct-driven living mechanisms, even though, as Yoerg points out, the tree of evolution has sprouted numerous, diverse forms of survival-related intelligence. With numerous examples based on scientific experiments and observation, combined with a wealth of anecdotal personal experiences from North America, Africa and Europe, Yoerg challenges our comfortable beliefs. This is a fast-paced read, studded with insightful perspectives ranging from behavioral authorities (Robert Yerkes, B.F. Skinner) to literary lights (George Orwell, Wallace Stevens). Specialists with an interest in ethology and animal psychology will benefit as much from this intriguing stroll through the kingdom of animal intellectual ability as the general reader. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-674-00870-0
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