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Does anyone still think animals are dumb?

Alvin, a bearded dragon, is our official lucky lizard, live and on display

The late, great Torgo titled “Random lizard at Museum of the Weird” by Mike M (Oct 2012)

At the Museum of the Weird we have Alvin, our official lucky lizard. He’s been with us for about seven years or so. We’ve had a number of other live animals around, including our beloved Torgo, a Nile Monitor who was with us for many years before finally succumbing to old age. Anyone who has spent time with animals knows that they are capable of connection. I know someone who is very fond of birds and experiences affection from them. We certainly feel it with our lizards.

Of course, there are still those who don’t get that. Perhaps some of the continued explorations of science will cause people to rethink their ideas about lesser animals.

In these fascinating videos from the University of Lincoln we see examples of animals that you would not normally think of as smart demonstrating their ability to learn some extraordinary things. This first video shows a bearded dragon, like Alvin, who has learned by watching how to open the door to his cage. Previously, this sort of imitation was thought to only occur in higher level creatures.

Next we see a tortoise who has learned how to use a touch screen.

Surely anyone who spends enough time around animals discovers that they have their own kinds of complex interactions with the world. As we connect with them, rather than simply trying to control them or observe them, we find that there is surprising overlap. Is that honestly so weird?

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