5 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.

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