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Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:34 AM

Do animals have imagination?

An eight-year-old juvenile chimpanzee named Kakama trudged along a path among the forest trees, following his pregnant mother. A scientist sat silently at a distance, watching Kakama pick up a log and carry it with him for hours. At one point, Kakama made a nest and placed the log in it, as if it were a small chimpanzee. Months later, two field assistants observed the same thing: Kakama was playing with a similar log, which they labelled "Kakama's toy baby."

Was Kakama simply confused? Did he really think that the log was a smaller version of himself? Or did Kakama know that the log was really a log, and was only pretending that the log was a baby?

Kanzi, the famous bonobo, liked to pretend as well. Primatologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh described watching Kanzi hide invisible objects under blankets or leaves, later removing them from their hiding spots, and pretending to eat them. "Kanzi also engages the participation of others" in these games, Savage-Rumbaugh notes, "by giving them the pretend object and watching to see what they do with it."

From an early age, human children act out imagined scenes that conflict with reality. Psychologist Robert W Mitchell calls children "proto-typical pretenders", and he writes that pretend play, or make-believe, is "a mental activity involving imagination". Which is, admittedly, useless as a definition.

Dreams could be thought of as being one form of imagination. When researchers measured the brain activity of rats as they were learning to navigate a maze, they saw the same firing pattern while they were asleep as when they were awake. The rats were running through the mazes in their sleep it was as if someone had pressed the rewind button on a brain activity recorder, and pressed play.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130207-can-animals-imagine

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Arrow 20 replies Author Time Post
Reply Do animals have imagination? (Original post)
The Straight Story Feb 2013 OP
woo me with science Feb 2013 #1
Kalidurga Feb 2013 #2
kestrel91316 Feb 2013 #9
tblue37 Feb 2013 #15
magellan Feb 2013 #3
Egalitarian Thug Feb 2013 #4
loudsue Feb 2013 #7
kestrel91316 Feb 2013 #10
Egalitarian Thug Feb 2013 #11
pecwae Feb 2013 #18
slackmaster Feb 2013 #5
Lint Head Feb 2013 #6
Honeycombe8 Feb 2013 #8
pecwae Feb 2013 #19
snooper2 Feb 2013 #12
XemaSab Feb 2013 #13
KT2000 Feb 2013 #14
tblue37 Feb 2013 #16
KT2000 Feb 2013 #20
Nhrtuvdxi Feb 2013 #17

Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:37 AM

1. When our dogs used to stalk their toys,

growl at them, toss them into the air, circle them warily, and pounce on them, we had no doubt they were pretending.

We are arrogant creatures who vastly underestimate the intelligence and emotional lives of animals.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:41 AM

2. Yes they do...

And I am pretty sure dogs dream. I have watched my dog while she is sleeping and it seems she is reacting to something she is dreaming about. Her legs twitch. Sometimes she growls. Sometimes she makes sort of murmuring sound. Plus animals play and that probably requires imagination.

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Response to Kalidurga (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:37 AM

9. Cats dream, too. Twitchy paws, lips, whiskers......little

whimpers and murmurs.

Do they consciously imagine when awake? I doubt it. They seem to live in the moment.

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 03:39 AM

15. A cat I had in the 1970s, a Tonkinese, used to take a rolled up

purple paper square I used to clean my glasses and hide it in a paper bag. He would scrunch the bag up to close it and pointedly walk away from the bag. Then he would stick his ears up in their alert posture and whirl around to pounce on the bag and scrabble it open to "catch" the rolled up purple paper. He played this game often, and it was evident that he was pretending that he didn't know there was a purple thing until he imagined that it did something to catch his attention so he could pounce it and kill it.

All of my animals have invented games for themselves, but that one was obviously an imagined scenario in which he was playing a role.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:42 AM

3. I think there's no doubt

Imagination is required for play, which many animals do. My dogs don't stalk brussel sprouts because one has ever got up and tried to hide from them. They dream as well, as anyone owned by a dog or cat can testify, and that requires some level of imagination too. No reason to think it's only active during sleep for them.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:59 AM

4. If you spend time with animals, without the "professional detachment" we take on when

 

we know that we are going to end up killing them because it's how we earn a living, you really can't help but to realize that there is so much more going on in there than we are told.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:26 AM

7. That is also why some of us don't kill them to earn a living.

But I know mercenaries kill people for a living. I just couldn't.

Some folks are built for it, some folks aren't.

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Response to loudsue (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:41 AM

10. Probably wasn't such a nice thing to say,

comparing people who work in the livestock industry with mercenaries. Actually, it was fairly insulting, as "mercenary" has more than one meaning, and can be epithet-ish or a slur.

Death is a part of life. Indeed some of us are better suited to accepting that.

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Response to loudsue (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:44 AM

11. A lot of people don't really have a choice. Until we can devote the time and resources

 

to fundamentally altering our consciousness and societal structure, we are going to have to continue to kill a lot of animals. We've demolished the balance by killing almost all the predators, and we've bred many species that are simply unable to live without our protection and care.

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Response to loudsue (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:31 AM

18. Add me to the not-built-for-it

list. I don't kill animals including humans. I don't eat the meat or use the skins of animals. I don't hold myself as some sort of holy person for what I do or don't do. It's just the way I'm built.

BTW your comment did not compare animal farmers to mercenaries.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:01 AM

5. I'm sure that my Attack Cats do. They even have lucid dreams.

 

As they kick and scratch and growl in their sleep, I imagine that they are dreaming of tackling deer or antelope.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:01 AM

6. What or who imagined us? Does time and the universe think?

My dogs bark, move their legs as if running, when they dream.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:36 AM

8. Why would anyone think they don't? Humans have always underestimated...

other animals (humans are animals, too!) and ancient civilizations. Remember how perplexed scientists were at how the Egyptians built the pyramids? It simply wasn't possible, with the skills and technology they had at that time! Yes, there were the pyramids as proof. Did aliens build them? Not really. We now know how they were built, and it's pretty simple, really. Turns out it was the modern human who was deficient in imaging how to build a pyramid because they were looking backward in technology; they couldn't imagine what could be done by people who viewed things from a perspective of being advanced (for the times).

I have no doubt whatsoever that my dog is using her imagination when she plays with her squeaky toy. She's imagining it's a small animal.

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Response to Honeycombe8 (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:36 AM

19. My late and much loved

Scotty used to "kill" his squeaky toys. As soon as the squeaker was out he lost interest. There was no animal scent on the toy, no resistance (unless I was tugging on the other end), so I don't see how he could conclude it was a living animal.

edit My same boy would tear into Xmas presents given to him. He'd save balls or Nylabones to open last. He went for the squeaky toys first.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:44 AM

12. Yep, my cat imagines every night

that I'm going to open the back door and let his ass outside again

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 03:05 AM

13. My dogs obviously sit there and think about things

Maddy in particular sometimes gets really shifty-eyed for no clear reason.

Why?

She's thinking about something.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 03:12 AM

14. cat toys!

are all about imagination.

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Response to KT2000 (Reply #14)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 03:42 AM

16. On my _Pet Tales_ website I tell about a cat I had who used to

perform what looked to me like scientific experiments:

"Other Kitty's Research Projects"
http://pettales.homestead.com/research.html

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Response to tblue37 (Reply #16)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:23 PM

20. that's great! n/t

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 04:20 AM

17. This is my Buddy that regularly plays with, hides and catches,

shakes to kill, his 'bugs' before putting in the food dish to munch with his kibble. It never gets old watching.



tried to post pic, hope it worked.

didn't, will try again.

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/pkrCdEa91jKls5-l6vdDSNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0

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