7 thoughts on “Homo Prospectus”

  1. The author asserts that “squirrels bury nuts by instinct, not because they know winter is coming.” I wouldn’t be too sure. It has been observed, for example, that if a squirrel burying a nut spots another squirrel watching him, he will pretend to bury the nut, carry it off to a place where he isn’t being watched, and really bury it. It is the first known instance of an animal deliberately deceiving another of his species. That reflects more than an “instinctual” (whatever that is) awareness of the future.

  2. My cats used to deliberately deceive each other when chasing each other around the house. It was fun to watch.
    One would take off through one entrance to our lounge room, the other would figure he’d intercept in the corridor via the other entrance and the first would double back and be behind the other.

    1. Perhaps it is the first instance of this among rodents. Squirrels are much smarter than people think. Raccoons are even smarter, though for some reason have never been studied in as much detail as primates. Having observed both squirrels and raccoons up close a lot recently, I can attest to the intelligence – both absolute and relative – of each.

      Personally, I think raccoons are on a par with any of the chimpanzee or monkey species, and way above the dolphins.

      1. Agree about squirrels. Had a family of them living in a maple tree in the family front yard when I was a kid. More in a second tree by the garage out back. My father used to make a game of putting dollops of peanut butter in “inaccessible” places in the yard and watch our wee neighbors figure out ways to get at them.

        My own family has been owned by a succession of guinea pigs over the past quarter-century. Extremely bright little creatures. At least as smart as a normative dog and much smarter than any cat I’ve ever known. Quite variable in personality too. Astonishing what Nature can squeeze into an animal about 1% my mass.

        Guinea pigs seem to share at least a modicum of humankind’s prospective tendency. Day-to-day, they look forward to their regular feeding times and get reproachfully chatty if a meal is late in arriving.

        1. We had a squirrel in our yard that was always emptying the bird feeder. I did not know how he did it. It was away from trees. It was on a long smooth slender pole that would have been difficult to shimmy up – I even put grease on it just to try to make that more difficult. All for naught. That wasn’t how he did it.

          I caught him in the act one day. The trees were not near, but he climbed high enough in one, and took a huge leap. He landed on the feeder and clung for dear life while it swayed back and forth. Once it settled, he scooped up his reward.

          I’ve had mice defeat my traps. One little fellow would apparently tip-toe up, and just lick the peanut butter up one tongue-full at a time. I would come back, and the trap would be unsprung, and all the bait seemingly magically disappeared. He knew it was a trap, and obviously figured out how to defeat it.

          I substituted a trap that worked differently, and that got him. I was kind of sad, and saluted him as I dropped his carcass in the garbage. That was one smart mouse.

  3. Master Yoda reminds us that t”he future is hard to see.” So the mind reading act regarding Trump shows a certain arrogance. Getting the best deals now may be the best way to secure the future. He seemed to do well with the Saudi? Bibi then had to whip his people in line.

    The future isn’t a game of chess… it’s a game of poker. Not being predictable gives Trump a huge advantage.

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