The Smartest Animals on the Planet: Extraordinary Tales of the Natural World's Cleverest Creatures by Sally Boysen, Deborah Custance |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Smartest Animals on the Planet: Extraordinary Tales of the Natural World's Cleverest Creatures

The Smartest Animals on the Planet: Extraordinary Tales of the Natural World's Cleverest Creatures

by Sally Boysen, Deborah Custance
     
 

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Succinctly written and sumptuously illustrated with photographs and diagrams, this appealing book is sure to fascinate the general reader and inspire the science student considering a career in animal behavior or cognition.
--Library Journal (starred review)

This compelling book is from a world authority in animal intelligence and

Overview

Succinctly written and sumptuously illustrated with photographs and diagrams, this appealing book is sure to fascinate the general reader and inspire the science student considering a career in animal behavior or cognition.
--Library Journal (starred review)

This compelling book is from a world authority in animal intelligence and brings together the cumulative research relating to non-human "smart" species. It reveals how intelligent animals communicate, how they learn behavior, how they show feelings and emotions -- and for some species, how they use tools, count, and pick up a foreign language!

Fully illustrated with photographs and step-by-step graphics, and drawing on data from historical and current experiments and observations, the book examines intelligence in the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans), monkeys, and a surprisingly long list of non-primate species: sea otters, eagles, elephants, dolphins, lions, whales, parrots, honeybees, beetles, rats, woodpeckers, crows, and dogs.

The book's chapters are:

  • Comparing Animal Skills and Intelligence -- with each other and with humans
  • Animal Tool Use -- in nature, in captivity, environmental adaptation
  • Communication in Animals -- language, intention, meaning, alarms
  • Imitation and Social Learning -- culture, observational learning
  • Social Cognition and Emotion -- cooperation, altruism, empathy, deception
  • Self-recognition and Awareness -- consciousness, mirror self-recognition
  • Numerical Abilities in Animals -- counting, uses of quantity
  • Animals and Human Non-verbal Language -- sign language, shapes, graphic symbols.

This new edition's updates reflect the massive surge in research on animal cognitiion in the last 3 years -- in companion dogs, birds, insects, stingrays and mongooses.

Editorial Reviews

American Reference Books Annual
[Review for previous edition] A world authority on animal cognition, Sally Boysen has written an overview of the many species that show remarkable mental abilities.... The types of intelligence shown in these groups is also highly diverse (e.g., tool use, communication, language, numerical abilities, social learning). Reports of both classical studies and the most recent research are well described and generously illustrated with photographs and drawings. Particularly interesting are the discussions of the importance of "smart" behaviors to animal survival in the natural world. This fascinating work will attract many readers and especially resonate with anyone who has known a clever animal or pet.

— Charles Leck

Booklist
[Review for previous edition] Boysen provides clear examples of animals that demonstrate a high degree of intelligence in each category. Clearly and conversationally written, and illustrated with photographs, drawings and range maps, this is an irresistible introduction to the other intelligences that share our planet. YA/S: Wonderful for dipping into and an excellent start for projects.

— Nancy Bent

Good Times
[Review for previous edition] Animal lovers will love this fascinating and beautifully illustrated book. Boysen, world renowned for her research work with chimpanzees, shows us how animals, like humans, communicate, learn behaviours, and show feelings and emotions. The book examines the intelligence of well-known "smart" animals, such as gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and dolphins, as well as other species, including sea otters, eagles, elephants, birds, bees, beetles, rats, and raccoons. We all know raccoons have some degree of street smarts? How else do they manage to get into our garbage?

— Liz Grogan

New Scientist
[Review for previous edition] In this coffee table compendium, primatologist Sally Boysen mostly hits the mark.... While Boysen leans towards generous interpretations of animal intelligence, such as the ability of some species to recognise their reflection in a mirror, she is quick to point out negative or contentious findings.

— Ewen Callaway

Vancouver Sun
[Review for previous edition] Animals' abilities in seven areas, including tool use and social learning, are showcased in this coffee table book, whose layout invites browsing.
American Reference Books Annual - Charles Leck
[Review for previous edition] A world authority on animal cognition, Sally Boysen has written an overview of the many species that show remarkable mental abilities.... The types of intelligence shown in these groups is also highly diverse (e.g., tool use, communication, language, numerical abilities, social learning). Reports of both classical studies and the most recent research are well described and generously illustrated with photographs and drawings. Particularly interesting are the discussions of the importance of "smart" behaviors to animal survival in the natural world. This fascinating work will attract many readers and especially resonate with anyone who has known a clever animal or pet.
Booklist - Nancy Bent
[Review for previous edition] Boysen provides clear examples of animals that demonstrate a high degree of intelligence in each category. Clearly and conversationally written, and illustrated with photographs, drawings and range maps, this is an irresistible introduction to the other intelligences that share our planet. YA/S: Wonderful for dipping into and an excellent start for projects.
Good Times - Liz Grogan
[Review for previous edition] Animal lovers will love this fascinating and beautifully illustrated book. Boysen, world renowned for her research work with chimpanzees, shows us how animals, like humans, communicate, learn behaviours, and show feelings and emotions. The book examines the intelligence of well-known "smart" animals, such as gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and dolphins, as well as other species, including sea otters, eagles, elephants, birds, bees, beetles, rats, and raccoons. We all know raccoons have some degree of street smarts? How else do they manage to get into our garbage?
New Scientist - Ewen Callaway
[Review for previous edition] In this coffee table compendium, primatologist Sally Boysen mostly hits the mark.... While Boysen leans towards generous interpretations of animal intelligence, such as the ability of some species to recognise their reflection in a mirror, she is quick to point out negative or contentious findings.
SciTech Book News
[Review for previous edition] Following an introduction to scientists' debates over what constitutes intelligence in humans and animals from ants to whales, an expert on chimpanzee cognition (PhD, Ohio State U.) presents a comparative cognition approach to various animal species' use of tools, communication, social learning, mirror self-recognition, numerical abilities, and cooperation and altruism. Chapters on each species discussed include a map of its natural habitat, sometimes surprising study findings, unanswered questions, and color photographs. The book includes a glossary and contribution by another primate expert, but no references or further reading.
Halifax Chronicle Herald
This is a revised and updated version of her book from several years ago with new information on animal cognition in birds, insects, dogs and perhaps, surprisingly, mongooses and stingrays. Divided into sections based on different types of animal behavior, including using tools, communication, cooperation and altruism, it offers wonderful insights without falling into the anthropomorphism so common in television and fiction dealing with animal behaviours.
North Shore News
We know animals are intelligent, but just like people there are some that are smarter than others.
North Shore News - Terry Peters
We know animals are intelligent, but just like people there are some that are smarter than others.
Publishers Weekly
The first studies of animal intelligence focused on chimps, gorillas and orangutans, simply because humans assumed intelligence was the province of higher primates; other species, it was thought, acted through instinct. Then twentieth century field biologists began reporting observations of problem-solving in many other species: bees dancing to convey pollen locations, whales using complex sounds to communicate across entire ocean basins, crows using sticks to pull grubs from tree bark, salamanders differentiating between smaller and larger food sources. Each animal is placed into one of seven categories-tool making and use, communication, learned social behaviors, individual self-awareness, numerical ability, language learning and group cooperation/mutual protection-though they clearly overlap, showing how animals place on different axes of intelligence (a dolphin exhibits tool use and learned culture skills when showing her pup how to fish with a sponge). Vibrant color photographs and diagrams illustrate species and behavioral sequences like the different facial cues of baboons (the "kings of expression"). Clearly-written text is aimed primarily at adults, but suitable for middle school and advanced elementary school students (with help from the included glossary). An ideal family gift, this should also find use in the classroom.
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Library Journal

The field of comparative animal cognition has quietly been challenging our cherished beliefs about what separates humanity from other animals with evidence that a variety of animals use tools, are self-aware, and can learn the rudiments of a representational language. Chimpanzee researcher Boysen (psychology, Ohio State) has organized the newest laboratory and field research in animal intelligence into seven broad categories of cognition. It is not surprising that the highly social and intelligent chimpanzee excels in every category, yet some unlikely animals also have smarts: marine sea otters crack open shellfish with rocks, Sahara Desert ants "count" steps to get back to their nests, and red-backed salamanders "respond to quantity." A list of suggestions for further reading would have been beneficial since many of the scientists whose work is cited (e.g., Jane Goodall, Roger Fouts, Irene Pepperberg, Frans de Waal) have written excellent books for lay readers. VERDICT Succinctly written and sumptuously illustrated with photographs and diagrams, this appealing book is sure to fascinate the general reader and inspire the science student considering a career in animal behavior or cognition.—Cynthia Knight, Hunterdon Cty. Lib., Flemington, NJ


—Cynthia Knight
VOYA - Geri Diorio
This textbook-like volume contains seven chapters that individually explore a particular type of intelligence in animals: Using Tools, Communication, Imitation and Social Learning, Mirror Self-Recognition, Numerical Abilities, Animal Language Studies, and Cooperation and Altruism. These chapters are further broken down into smaller, heavily illustrated sections, offering plentiful examples of animals exhibiting specific kinds of intelligence in various research trials and experiments. The author makes clear the premise that animals are smart, but it is very difficult to identify and label human intelligence because it is not fully understood. Nevertheless this book shows the ground covered by many studies and clinical trials performed by scientists in fields as varied as linguistics, biology, anthropology, psychology, and even philosophy. The book's language is very sophisticated and has high expectations of the reader. Words and phrases like "neural mechanisms," "cognitive continuum," and "foraging substrates" are offered only in context. Chapters are heavily illustrated with gorgeous color photographs, maps, and line drawings. These beautifully printed illustrations and photographs are the best part of the book. This volume would be most useful in classrooms with curricula studying animal behavior or psychology. Although the gorgeous photographs draw in readers and almost demand to be scrutinized, this book is not for the casual browser. The high-level language is dense and the subject matter, although interesting, takes effort to digest. Reviewer: Geri Diorio

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781554079650
Publisher:
Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date:
09/20/2012
Edition description:
Revised and Updated
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
1,156,647
Product dimensions:
8.44(w) x 9.84(h) x 0.55(d)

Meet the Author

Sally Boysen, PhD, is internationally recognized for her work in chimpanzee cognition. She is currently a consulting editor for the Journal of Comparative Psychology, and her research has been featured on the PBS series NOVA and on BBC Horizons.

Deborah Custance, PhD, has conducted research on social learning in several species of primates and published papers in international journals.

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