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AGelbert

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Intelligence
« on: November 16, 2013, 10:32:42 pm »
The Nature Institute

In Context #1 (Spring, 1999, pp. 16-19); copyright 1999 by The Nature Institute 

Programming the Universe: Are Animals Robots?
 
Stephen L. Talbott

Artificial intelligence researchers are fond of creating little robots that scurry around on the floor and possess - or will soon possess, so we are assured—the wit of an insect. The assumption, often made explicit, is that with each technical advance the intelligence of these devices will ascend another step of the evolutionary ladder, finally approaching the mental cleverness and versatility of man.

But this gets things exactly backward. The truth of the matter is that it is much easier to program human intelligence—or, at least, certain aspects of it—than to program anything at all of an insect's intelligence. After all, we're the ones who have invented computers. Clearly we can learn to pattern our thinking in step with the mechanisms of a computer; we do this every time we write a program—and therefore the computer so programmed is patterned after our thinking. The execution of a computer program must reproduce our thinking in some sense. But it's quite a different matter with the beetle, who is presumably a long way from being able to hire on as a software engineer.

What artificial intelligence researchers like about insects is their supposedly simple, rule-based intelligence. This is odd, however, since it is the human being, not the insect, who has gained the ability to think in a rule-driven manner. We are the ones who not only speak, but derive syntactic rules of speech—and then admonish our children to "obey the rules". We are the ones who not only analyze our experience, but tease out of our analytic activity the logic of analysis. We alone formulate volumes of legal code, rules of etiquette, protocols of office, organizational procedures, New Year's resolutions.

"But even if the insect doesn't consciously formulate the relatively simple rules of its behavior, isn't it obvious that it obeys rules?" No, it's not. Here several things need saying.

The Commonsensical Beetle

In the first place, no one would be so foolish as to claim that an insect obeys rules in any literal sense. Certainly there is no conscious obedience going on, nor even a conscious apprehension of rules. At most one might say that the insect has rules of behavior somehow "built in" to it, which it must follow.

But this, too, is a misrepresentation. Yes, an insect often displays a kind of rigidity in its behavior, and, yes, when we apply our narrowly focused, abstracting intellects to this behavior, we may all too easily reduce it to rules of thumb. Rules of thumb, however, are not the behavior they summarize and reduce, nor do they adequately describe the behavior. We learned this during the early days of artificial intelligence work, when researchers confidently applied the same reduction to human intelligence. Only slowly did they realize that our common sense—which lies at the opposite pole from the more highly conscious activity whereby we explicitly formulate and obey rules—was hopelessly beyond any imaginable collection of rules.

There is every reason to think that this must hold true all the more for the intelligence of the insect, which surely lies even further toward the "organic" and implicit end of the spectrum than does our own common sense. Only the abstract, rule-bound activity of our intellects allows us to think otherwise. We see the fly expending the last energies of its life banging its head against a window pane, and we think, "What a simple-minded program it is following!"

Do Reflexes Exist?

But the fly was not made for a world of window panes. Its powers of adaptation are extremely limited. A lack of adaptability to a wholly alien world, however, is not the same as simple-mindedness or rule-mindedness. Within its own, infinitely complex and ever-changing world, the fly demonstrates an intelligence that in many respects is more subtle and efficacious than our own.

Even the behavior at the window pane would reveal endless subtleties if we were to observe it carefully enough: how does it vary with different light and reflective conditions, different temperature conditions, time of day, the presence of other insects or spider webs, different chemical gradients in the air, and so on? The simple-mindedness of its "rules" is really the simple-mindedness of our observation.

All this was put into clear relief by Kurt Goldstein in his several-decades-old and decisively important book, The Organism (recently reprinted with a foreword by Oliver Sacks). A neurologist, Goldstein looked at the various ways we analyze organisms into rule-based, mechanical parts and then try to reconstruct the whole from these parts.

It never works. He assesses the idea of the "reflex" in animals and shows in exhaustive detail that the "simple-minded" reflex mechanisms we so easily imagine actually don't exist.

For example, slight changes in the intensity of a stimulus can often reverse  :o a reflex; a reflex in one part of a body can be altered by the position of other parts; an organism's exposure to certain chemicals such as strychnine can reverse a reflex; other chemicals can completely change the nature of a reflex (a decerebrated cat will immediately swallow any water placed on its pharynx, but will produce wiping movements of the tongue instead if there is a little alcohol in the water); fatigue can have the same effect; consciously trying to repress a reflex can accentuate it (try it with your "knee-jerk" reflex); and so on without end.

[b/Goldstein showed that the reflex is an artifact of our own stance as researchers, whereby we conceptually and experimentally isolate one part of an organism, cutting the part off from its whole. 
[/b]Moreover, he finds that higher organisms, including human beings, are much more likely to show approximations of reflexes, because it is we who can allow parts of ourselves to become isolated and de-centered. (That's what many procedures of medical assessment are all about.)

Human beings are able, by assuming a special attitude, to surrender single parts of their organism to the environment for isolated reaction. Usually, this is the condition under which we examine a patient's "reflexes"....But [regarding the pupillary reflex] it certainly is not true that the same light intensity will produce the same contraction when it affects the organ in isolation (as in the reflex examination) and when it acts on the eye of the person who deliberately regards an object....one only needs to contrast the pupillary reaction of a man looking interestedly at a brightly illuminated object with the reaction of an eye that has been exposed "in isolation" to the same light intensity. The difference in pupillary reaction is immediately manifest. (Goldstein, 1995, p. 144)

"I Am the World"

If we would approach the intelligence of the insect in its own terms, without imposing our artificial requirements on it, then the fly on the window pane usefully reminds us that the insect is inseparable from its environment. The naturalist E. L. Grant Watson speaks of this when describing a newly emerged mason-bee taking flight for the first time and alighting on some chance object. It has no experience of the world as yet; how will it find its way?

I ask it: "What do you know, young bee, of the world and the universe?" It answers: "I am the universe." (Watson, 1995, pp. 142-43)

Our temptation is to take this as poetic shorthand for "the bee comes equipped with a set of built-in rules that prepare it for what it will meet in its normal environment." As we have seen, this is a highly problematic view. What are the alternatives?

One alternative is to take Watson's remark at face value. The bee is a whole, integrated within a larger whole; its intelligence is at the same time an expression of the world's intelligence. What it meets in the world is not something foreign, but itself.

Such statements will doubtless offend conventional scientific sensibilities. And yet we are driven to them as soon as we try to understand conscious intelligence, whether an insect's dull and "sleeping" intelligence or our own focused and self-aware intelligence. You cannot speak of the unity or coherence of any activities of consciousness—in fact, you cannot speak of consciousness at all—without speaking of qualities. Take any state of your own consciousness and subtract all its qualities, and you will have nothing conscious left. Without the qualitative experience of, say, a tree, you won't even have anything from which to abstract quantities.

Now, the peculiar thing about qualities is their double nature. They are "in here"—part of the interior of the self (which is why science has shied away from them). But they are also "out there" in the world we share. That is, once you have discounted hallucinations and other purely subjective contents, you are left with the phenomenal world we hold in common. It remains qualitative through and through. Only our habits of abstraction, and our willingness to mistake abstract residues for the reality they came from, could convince us otherwise.

Qualities that are both in here and out there raise the question whether the task of programming a beetle's consciousness—programming the qualitative texture of its experience—is also a task of programming its environment. It may be less true to think of the beetle as a centered, executive agent responding by-the-rule to stimuli from the world than to think of the world gathering itself (in all its qualitative beetleness) to a focus in the insect.

That focus may be diffuse, perhaps vaguely analogous to the soft focus of our dreams. In the human being, on the other hand, the gathering of interior light has become intense and sharply defined, finally igniting a flame within us, so that we, unlike the beetle, can throw light back upon the world. We can understand and bring ever new things to pass. It is not only that the world gathers and expresses itself in us; we express ourselves through the world.

What Is It Like to Be a Program? (Not Much)


So the spectrum of conscious intelligence, running from "simple" organism to complex, can be seen to reflect a shifting balance between a diffuse, world-intelligence raying into the organism from without, and a bright, focused intelligence partly raying back out into the world. This is a very different matter from seeing the spectrum as reflecting an ever more complex assemblage of rules.
What makes the latter view possible is the abandonment of the attempt to understand conscious intelligence altogether.

It is replaced by the search for mechanisms that can more or less approximately reproduce particular behaviors. And with this narrow, isolating focus come the pathologies of understanding that Goldstein documents so devastatingly. Once you have abandoned the only ground upon which unities and wholes can be recognized—and that ground is irreducibly qualitative—you will inevitably find separate, well-defined mechanisms where there are none—creating them if necessary. And you will no longer care very much for the kind of qualitative observation that alone can show you the limitations of your viewpoint.

It's no surprise, then, that the abiding problem at the center of all efforts to create artificial intelligence remains as untouched today as it was forty years ago: how do we program the qualitative texture and content of consciousness? How, that is, do we program a consciousness as experienced "from the inside" (and, of course, the experience of things from the inside is what consciousness is.)

Is any organism ever precisely bound by rules in the strict, computational sense?   It would be a healthy thing if those attempting to program animal behavior and intelligence would attempt to answer this question through direct observation of animals in their natural habitat. What I think they would find, if they were good observers, is that their rules became ever more compromised, more qualitative, more artistic in form as the range of their observation expanded, until finally they realized that they were striving to experience the inner being of the animal, its meaning or expressive unity, more than a set of rules.

It was long ago pointed out (by Thomas Nagel, 1980) that artificial intelligence researchers have not been able to approach the qualitative side of consciousness. They have not satisfactorily answered the question, "What is it like to be a bat?" This is sometimes viewed as the "last frontier" of artificial intelligence. The truth of the matter, I think, is that it is the entire unsolved and unsolvable problem of artificial intelligence. In the end, there is no other question to ask about an organism, except "What is it like to be that organism?" All the "mechanisms", all the "reflexes" and "drives"—if we were to explore them fully enough—would be recognized as nothing more than stranded fragments of the answer to this question. The organism is a unity, and the only way for anything to be a unity is for it to be an interior shining through—integrally expressing itself through—an exterior (Barfield, 1977).

The interior is given in consciousness, and this consciousness can, at one extreme, possess the soft focus that is more an expression of the world than of the "separate" organism. At the other extreme, it can exhibit the sharp, self-sustaining focus that enables us—unlike the fly and the beetle—to detach ourselves from the world and thereby to make both rules and mistakes. Many of our mistakes, it turns out, have to do with projecting our own, lately achieved, rule-following consciousness upon the living dynamic of the world from which we have detached ourselves.


Stephen L. Talbott is a senior researcher at The Nature Institute and author of The Future Does Not Compute: Transcending the Machines in Our Midst.
 
http://natureinstitute.org/pub/ic/ic1/robots.htm
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AGelbert

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Wisdom of the Potter Wasp
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2013, 12:45:28 am »
The Nature Institute  

 In Context #1 (Spring, 1999, p. 18), published by The Nature Institute 
The Obscure Wisdom of the Potter Wasp

E. L. Grant Watson


What a Paint job!

Among the fascinating stories of animal life told by the French naturalist Henri Fabre is that of the sand wasp Eumenes [usually referred to as the potter wasp]. The fertilized female builds a little domed house of sand spicules on some stone or rock foundation. The foundation ring is traced in minute pebbles. On this she builds a series of concentric rings, each diminishing in circumference, so as to enclose a domed space. At the top she leaves a hole. She then begins collecting certain species of small caterpillars. She stings these into a partial paralysis, but does not kill them, for they will be needed as fresh meat for the young she will never see.

[/img]




When the wasp has collected either five or ten caterpillars, she prepares to close the dome, reducing the size of the hole. She now goes through a complicated process which would seem to indicate foresight on her part. Yet she has no foresight, only a highly developed instinct. From her ovipositor she excretes a juicy substance, working it with her legs into a narrow, inverted cone. With a thread of the same substance, she stitches the cone to the top of her domed building. Into the inverted cone, she lays an egg. She then seals up the hole, leaving the egg safe within the cone, suspended on a thread. This done, she goes off and builds another dome to repeat the same cycle of events.




In a short time the egg hatches into a tiny, white grub, so helpless and delicate that if placed among the still-living caterpillars on the floor of the dome, it would inevitably be injured. In its cradle it is safe. When hungry it spins a thin thread of its own, on which it descends and takes a bite of caterpillar. If the wriggling caterpillars appear threatening, it can retreat up the thread, and wait. In this way the grub spends its infancy; but, as it grows stronger, it risks a final descent, and devours, at its leisure, the still living food that mother has so satisfactorily provided.



From the domes that contain five caterpillars male wasps emerge; from where there are ten caterpillars, the larger female wasps. This raises an interesting question: Does the amount of food determine the sex? The mother wasp, who appears throughout her lifetime as a highly nervous and brilliantly alive creature, has built just the right sort of houses for the offspring she will never see; and has provided just the right amount of food. She is singularly well-adapted for her life; she stings the caterpillars just enough to keep them quiet, but not enough to kill them; she packs each dome with the right amount of food for male or female grub. The suspended cradle protects the tender infant from the rough reactions of the caterpillars while being eaten. Everything is in order, and as the emerging sand wasp dries her wings in the summer sunshine, she must surely feel that God is in his heaven, and all is well the world. The caterpillars might harbour different sentiments....

The generally accepted belief is that the sex is already determined by the arrangement of genes in the fertilized egg. If this is so, the wasp must be controlled by an infallible guide within the unconscious working of her body as to the sex of the egg she will be ready to lay when her dome is completed. Nature certainly propounds puzzles for any who would suggest premature answers.

http://natureinstitute.org/pub/ic/ic1/potterwasp.htm




 
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AGelbert

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Otters and their "tools" Skin Pocket
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2013, 09:31:18 pm »

Enhydra lutris (California Sea Otter


Otters have skin pockets, located under their forearms near the armpit area, which are used as storage for rocks or for prey that they have already caught. These pockets allow the otters to keep their hands free. These sea mammals are one of the few animals to use tools.  The rocks stored in otters' skin pockets are used to crack open the hard shells of prey such as mollusks or clams. An otter will float on its back with the rock on its belly, and then crack the shellfish against the rock to get to the shellfish's insides.

More about sea otters:

•Sea otters spend about eight hours each day hunting for food or eating, because they must consume roughly one-fourth of their body weight per day in order to survive.

•Milk from sea otters has an extremely high fat content, at about 25%. By comparison, whole cow’s milk has a fat content of 4%.

•The sea otter is the only marine animal without blubber to keep warm, but it does have the thickest fur of any animal.  :o

http://www.wisegeek.com/do-otters-have-skin-pockets.htm
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AGelbert

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The Wise, Gentle and Caring Fox
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2013, 09:52:34 pm »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_YZ0ggpYJc&feature=player_embedded
What looks like a dog, purrs like a cat, and has an undeserved bad reputation?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=819Kg9NSkz4&feature=player_embedded
English Fox that is totally wild, but quite friendly as well as intelligent enough to communicate her desires. 
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AGelbert

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Bees can find the most efficient route between flowers faster than a supercomputer can.



Bees navigate by recognizing patterns and symmetry, and although they have very small brains, they are one of the most efficient species in terms of navigation, scientists have found. In fact, research shows that bees are better than even supercomputers at finding the shortest route between many flowers without visiting the same flower twice.
The problem-solving abilityof bees is thought to be because of the bees’ need to preserve as much
energy as possible to find food and make their way home.

More about bees:
Honey bees might fly as far as 6 miles (9.7 km) away from their hives to find food.

Other than humans, bees are thought to be the only species that communicates with symbolic language or about things that are not present at the time. Bees use “dances” to communicate with one another.

Bees have three sets of eyes and are able to sense movements that are one 30th of a second apart, or the equivalent of individual a single frame of film during a movie.

http://www.wisegeek.com/how-do-bees-navigate.htm



                   



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AGelbert

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9t2RKYCBvE&feature=player_embedded
Amazingly informative video. Wolf puppies make sounds that trigger lactation in HUMAN FEMALES! Furthermore, the touching and handling triggers Oxycontin release which fosters empathy and pack unity. Orphaned wolves taken in and fed by humans is believed to be the beginning of domestication.

Agelbert NOTE: What the above video calls "evolution" is NOT evolution; it is selective breeding to trim the ORIGINAL DNA package as has been done by man in all domestication.

This is ADAPTATION, not evolution because no non-wolf DNA was introduced into the DNA to create some "evolutionary advantage" like docility, longer legs for running down prey, shorter legs for animal heel nipping or digging out prey in holes, retrieving ability ( soft mouth, water loving), increased intelligence, etc. 

They are ALL still capable of BREEDING with each other. And most of the radical changes in morphology have only occurred in the last 300 years or less. Therefore they is no ORIGIN of NEW SPECIES here despite the INTELLIGENT, rather than NATURAL, selection involved. Sorry Darwinists, no evolution here!

The success of the border collie in flushing birds out of airports to prevent bird strikes on aircraft as opposed to using loud noises is claimed to be because of the "evolutionary" traits of the birds to fear a furry ground predator. The claim is that birds haven't "evolved" to respond to loud aircraft noises and avoid them. Well, YEAH, they sure HAVEN'T!

Using a dog doesn't have beans to do with evolution, but does confirm the birds are afraid of dogs. When a dog scares them, they don't come back. when a loud sound or a human scares them, they come back. Evolution? NOPE! Aircraft don't HUNT birds. Birds have never seen an aircraft come back and eat the birds that flew into it. They have no reason to think an airplane is a predator. Humans move a LOT slower than a dog. That sounds like the basic DNA genetic PACKAGE of a bird, not evolution.

I hate this continual reaching for justification that "evolution" exists without a shred of proof!  >:(

Many of our modern dog breeds that have radically changed morphology from the wolf are not BETTER animals (as in "evolved"). They have inherited defects due to specialization. THAT is another bit of PROOF that the wolf DNA has been, not just trimmed, but in some breeds, DEGRADED. Again, this is NOT evolution.

The last part of the Video, where a great man called Randy rescues 2,000 dogs a year, is ANTI-evolutionary and ALL ABOUT LOVE. The narrator celebrates the love without realizing the contradiction of his position with prevailing evolutionary theory.

Randy realizes humans are stewards of these animals. He is a responsible human and a showing a spiritual quality no evolutionary theory can be explain with the release of oxycontin.  8).

There is NOTHING NATURAL about keeping stray animals from dying because they aren't "fit" enough to survive on their own. It's ALL about LOVE. Remember that the next time someone praises the theory of "evolution". Without love, humans are NOTHING.
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Friendhip among Animals
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2014, 11:21:45 pm »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv2OGph5Kec&feature=player_embedded


Animals DO Feel As Much As We Do 
                           



 It proves the simple, eternal truth that connection to other living beings is the purpose of our lives, whether we are a goat or a human.

 We need to stay together and believe what our hearts tell us. Feelings are real, and they guide us, and they even control our physiology.

 Watch this beautiful, life-affirming video, but be sure to get a box of tissues ready.


 --Celia Farber


 This video was produced by Animal Place
- See more at: http://www.nextworldtv.com/videos/humane-treatment-of-animals/goat-too-depressed-to-eat-until-reunited-with-best-friend.html#sthash.A9JCZEIh.dpuf
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=046lujOgBy8&feature=player_embedded

Animal Trainer Barbara Heidenreich is clearly a genius. Using treats as rewards, she’s taught her guinea pigs to play basketball. Each guinea pig even knows his designated basket, so it’s a proper game of guinea pig basketball!

Heidenreich calls her training method “force free,” meaning she doesn’t use punishment or any other negatives in her training practices. These piggies learned to play basketball in a loving, rewards-only environment. How cute is THAT?


Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/just-a-couple-of-guinea-pigs-playing-basketball.html#ixzz39MhxcUrs
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Smart monkeys making monkeys out of scientists
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2014, 10:03:12 pm »


Scientists as shields  ;D

Samango monkeys in a South African forest spend more time feeding near the ground when human observers are present. Field researchers may serve as protection from predators such as leopards, according to a study published July 10 in Behavioral Ecology.

Scientists placed buckets of peanuts on the ground and at four different heights in trees, and measured how much the monkeys—which were already accustomed to human observers—ate in the presence or absence of people. When people weren’t watching, the monkeys demonstrated a “vertical axis of fear”—they foraged more at greater heights, presumably in an effort to avoid predation. But the presence of researchers skewed this axis, causing the monkeys to forage more evenly among the different heights.

Human observation had little effect on the animals’ feeding at higher levels, probably because humans do not lessen the threat of eagles and other canopy predators. The authors noted that their results are an important reminder that the behavior of “habituated” animals may be markedly impacted by the presence of humans.

“If observer presence can alter the way in which animals forage and use space, this has obvious implications for observer-led studies of vigilance, trade-offs and predator-prey interactions,” study leader Katarzyna Nowak, a junior fellow at Durham University, told Mongabay.

http://www.the-scientist.com//?articles.view/articleNo/40939/title/Behavior-Brief/

Agelbert NOTE: Once again Homo SAP Scientists continue to be "surprised" by the "adaptive behavior"  ::)  (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS INTELLIGENCE ) of other life forms.   


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When Yawning is NOT a boring sunject
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2014, 10:57:08 pm »
Ancestral empathy

[embed=640,380]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B907aaDw7Ec#[/embed]
Mammals aren't the only animals that YAWN!   

Quote
Contagious yawning may be an indicator of deep-rooted empathy among certain mammals. Observations of a wolf pack in a Tokyo zoo revealed that wolves, like humans and other primates, yawn in response to one another. The results were published last month (August 29) in PLOS ONE.

The same University of Tokyo team previously showed that domestic dogs yawn in response to their owners’ yawns, but it was unclear whether this was a result of adaptation to living with humans or selective breeding by humans of particularly sensitive dogs.

“The wolf study indicates that the previous findings in dogs relate to general mammalian empathy,” Emory University’s Frans de Waal, who was not involved in the study, told Wired. “If wolves show the same reactions amongst themselves, this confirms the idea that basic empathy is a mammalian characteristic, found in animals from mice to elephants.”   

Interestingly, the contagious yawn responses were stronger when the wolves could see one another yawn, and were correlated with the strength of social bonds. Females were more likely to yawn contagiously than males, consistent with evidence that females are more acutely attuned to social cues. The precise meaning of the yawn itself, however, continues to elude scientists. 

http://www.the-scientist.com//?articles.view/articleNo/40939/title/Behavior-Brief/

Agelbert NOTE: That last paragraph had quite a bit of "No s h I t, Sherlock" logic in it.  ;D  Consider that when a wolf CANNOT see another wolf it's kinda HARD for a facial gesture of ANY kind to be "contagious". LOL! And no smarty pants comments allowed saying wolf howling is "contagious"!  Well, okay, if wolves make a weird and specific NOISE when they yawn, I'll give you some points WHEN YOU SHOW ME A VIDEO OF THE SOUND A WOLF MAKES WHEN IT YAWNS! So there!

Also, EVERYBODY I know considers it a no brainer that females ALWAYS act bored around males of any mammalian species. It's part of their "we are not impressed with you males" technique!     

And, OF COURSE, please understand what science speak for "the meaning of the yawn itself eluding scientists" MEANS.

That Is, ahem, they have NOT figured out a way to fit it into the "Evolutionary Advantage Trait" Procrustian bed! The Darwinian Religion and the priesthood DOES NOT allow any departures from DOGMA! 



Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

AGelbert

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Re: Intelligence
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2014, 08:50:26 pm »
“I Must Free His Leg”: Raccoon’s Only Hope is Brave Rescuer

by Laura Simpson

October 3, 2014

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally published on December 2, 2011. Enjoy!

Written by Laurie Raymond  of Colorado

Many years ago, I was the shelter director at PAWS of Lynnwood, Washington.  This organization had a dog and cat shelter, an advocacy department and a wildlife clinic.  We also rotated night and holiday rescue coverage for both domestic and wild critters who got into trouble outside of regular business hours.

One fall evening when I was on call, a woman phoned from a pay phone near a trail head where she and her 9-year-old son had been hiking.  They had come upon a raccoon caught in a leghold trap in a creek and didn’t begin to know how to get him out.



This Wasn’t Going to Be Easy

I sighed to myself.  Years of dealing with raccoons have given me a healthy respect for them, and I recalled many instances of their formidable fierceness.   :o I asked the woman if she and her son would wait for me and lead me back to the animal, and help me release him if I couldn’t get hold of a colleague to assist.  They assured me they would wait, and of course I was unable to round up anyone from our staff to go with me.  It was almost dark when we all trooped back up the trail to the animal. He was huge! I had brought with me a snare pole, some first aid supplies and a plastic carrier for taking him back to the clinic for treatment, since these traps often cause terrible damage.  One look told me this guy would never fit inside that carrier!


I don't have a photo from that night, but he was huge:o

I spoke to the raccoon, telling him what I intended and how I was going to release him, and he watched me closely but didn’t give away his thoughts.  He seemed calm, but whether from trust or shock I didn’t know.  I worked the loop of the snare around his body and under one arm, then gently pulled his upper body so that (I hoped) I could work on his trapped hind leg without him being able to get to me, and I showed the woman how to hold the pole stable by bracing it against a snag. 

I crossed the creek, approaching the raccoon’s hind end, and set to work on the trap.  The animal made one attempt to pull away, but then settled stoically.

I Knelt in the Water and Tried to Pry the Trap Open

But the trap was rusty and I wasn’t making progress opening it.  I knelt in the water and used my all-purpose tool to pry at the jaws, but they were not budging.  Suddenly I felt a difference in tension in the animal’s body and looked up.  Imagine my surprise when I saw his face just inches from mine!


I looked for the woman who was supposed to be holding the pole steady.  She was 10 feet away on the other bank, and the pole was lying uselessly in the water. Her son had slipped, she had dropped the pole to help him, and when the animal moved, she backed away and was afraid to approach him again.

I looked at the raccoon and he seemed to understand the situation.  I’m sure he had tried with his own hands to free his leg, because he could easily reach it. I guess he realized I was his only hope. 

Anyway, he made no move to interfere, and I kept at the trap until I finally was able to spring it.    The raccoon looked at me, then at his freed leg.  Without moving away, he picked it up in his hands and examined it carefully, then put it in the water and moved his foot, and finally his toes.

Then he stood up slowly and just stood there while I released the snare, walked upstream a couple of feet, and then scuttled up the bank.  There he stopped and gave me a long look I interpreted as “Thanks, catch you later”  and disappeared into the underbrush. 

Because I got to watch as he examined and tested his leg, I’m pretty sure he was OK.

And I was OK   ;D, and I was able to remove the snare (I had been wondering as I worked how I would manage that, and worrying whether I could catch up to him, if he took off still attached to it ).


This event was a high point from my years in animal rescue and even now the memory is vivid and sweet.


http://www.care2.com/causes/i-must-free-his-leg-raccoons-only-hope-is-brave-rescuer.html#ixzz3FDuf5mcC

Agelbert NOTE: I'm certain God was involved in this. Raccoons are very smart but this is atypical behavior for an injured wild animal.

God wanted to help the raccoon and this good person saving the raccoon too.

I imagine that when that raccoon was giving his rescuer the final long and thoughtful look of thanks, he was thinking to himself (or more likely, herself) the following:

"That's the strangest looking raccoon I've ever seen."   

Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

 

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