What on Earth Happened? Studying Homoplasically Evolved Cognition as a Way to Understand the Principles of "Intelligence"
Mathias Osvath (Cognitive Science, Department of Philosophy, Lund University)
In recent years studies on great apes, corvids, parrots, dolphins and other animals have revealed what appears to be striking similarities between the groups, and us, in complex physical and social cognition. Some of these capacities were not long ago regarded to be uniquely human. What is particularly interesting with this is that the capacities must have evolved independently. For example, the last common ancestor of birds and mammals lived around 300 million years ago – well before the dinosaurs. I will present a number of outstanding questions and opportunities that arise from these types of comparisons. Among other things, I will give a paleontological and phylogenetic account for how brain size has developed the last 600 million years, and in particular the last 15 million years in the above mentioned animal groups. I will give a brief outline of the major differences in bird and mammal brains. Last but not least, I will explain in what way we find these groups cognitively similar and what this could tell us about the universal principles of complex cognition.