A Meditation In Ink: Meditation 12.4.18

A pen and ink doodle meditation in red and green with a blurb about intelligence.Dear Henry,

Today in the New York Times, there was an article on animal intelligence, including that of the octopus.

While there are many times of intelligence and cunning in the animal kingdom, scientists generally consider an animal's ability to problem solve and remember things the key defining traits of superior intelligence

In the article, they listed the criteria that accompany intelligent animal life, which include a bigger brain, a longer lifespan, and a social structure so that an animal can learn from others.   These traits explain almost all the intelligent creatures on the planet. Except for one.  The octopus.

Octopuses are smart, very smart, yet most only live a couple of years at most.  They aren't hugely social creatures either, so they can't pick up knowledge from others and really, they don't have a "brain" - at least not like we think of one. They do host a central set of nerves, but then, there appears to be a "brain" in each arm as well, meaning, that for all practical purposes, they have nine brains.

I wonder now when we discuss intelligence if we even really know what we are looking for.  Perhaps we are overlooking all sort of other creatures, equally intelligent, but because they don't have the brain, lifespan, and social structure we come to expect, we overlook their intelligence.

Is our definition of intelligence faulty or are octopuses just the odd animal out?

What else could we be missing?

xoxo a.d.




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