Animal Cognisance

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Animal Cognisance

For a long time, humans have stayed at the top for two reasons – community and intelligence. Nonetheless, we are not the only intelligent beings roaming the planet! We are very well aware of the octopus, who is revelled for being extremely intelligent, with a large brain and the capability of high-order cognitive behaviours such as tool-use and problem-solving. Leeches have the same number of brains as an adult set of teeth, and a sponge has none. Our ape cousins are also known to be capable of high intelligence, and we’re so impressed we made a franchise out of it (ahem! Planet of the Apes! ahem!).

Our best friends are no less formidable and flex on us a brain capable of displaying an Emotional Quotient (EQ) good enough to actually take part in therapy.

As a matter of fact, dogs seem to listen better, respond appropriately to our emotions, and actually seem as if they sincerely care about our feelings. And take notes, boys and girls, an ideal friend should have these qualities! Doggies even have their own social structures and bonding systems, so if you see these stray dogs hanging out together in the sun, chances are, they’re hardcore ride-or-dies.

Let’s now talk about our feathered, flying friends. Interesting facts keep coming up about these creatures every now and then, and science is constantly coming to the conclusion that we only know a bucketful of an ocean of things these intelligent creatures are capable of. Be it crows, ravens, eagles, peacocks, parakeets, parrots, or koels, with every new step, we learn that these creatures aren’t just impressive in flight but are also highly impeccable beings.

Anyone who is born and has roamed this rocky miracle of the universe for a fair amount of time knows what a pigeon is. These aloof looking labourers have been a massive part and parcel of our community for as long as we can remember!

Pigeons have carried messages for humans for a long time, and they have even saved thousands of human lives during wars by bringing crucial messages at perfect time stamps. Even today, surveillance pigeons are used by armies to keep a check on their counter-attackers.

Do you know how pigeons one-up you? Even the bible references them. Ever heard of Cher Ami? The war hero who carried messages across heated battlefields and saved the lives of thousands of his French comrades? Well, that’s a pigeon! In fact, it was awarded the ‘Croix de Guerre’ medal for heroic service during the war. This mighty bird of a creature avoided shrapnel and poison gas to get the message through in 25 minutes!

Pigeons even have jobs, don’t tell your relatives, and don’t worry, we won’t tell them either. The first pigeon air-mail service started way back in 1896, between New Zealand and the Great Barrier Island. Studies have shown that pigeons can recognise all 26 letters of the English language and are able to differentiate between photographs and even between human beings! It is indeed very comforting and sometimes creepy that the pigeon who lives by your window might just recognise you. Yikes!

Moreover, if all other theories go down the drain, our fast-flying, weather-telling fowls will tickle your bones when you get to know that their droppings were once sought after. Yes, the same guano that makes you cringe today was used as a highly effective fertiliser years ago when people hired guards to keep the pigeon droppings from being stolen. So next time you spot a bird, make sure you put it to good use – maybe take it to your next math exam or send a letter to your lover or, well, use its dropping as a fertiliser!


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