Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Last words (or numbers) from Alex the parrot

The world's smartest African Gray Parrot
Ever since a good friend gave me a book on the late Alex the parrot (thanks, Kris) I've been a bit fascinated by this birdbrain's brain.  Alex could use numbers the way a toddler  might, grasping the concept of addition and subtraction.  In this article, we learn that Alex reportedly displayed the ability to add as high as 8 and sum the numbers of jellybeans shown to him momentarily and then hidden under three cups.  That puts Alex firmly in the primate category of brains - in fact, this level has only  been shown once in a chimpanzee,  Otherwise, it's exclusively human. Or so we thought.

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