Frans de Waal on the Emerging Science of Animal Cognition

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What separates your mind from an animal's? It's a question we've all asked, but renowned primatologist Frans de Waal says there's no point trying to rank who's smarter or dumber in the animal world. In fact, he told Steve Paulson that he believes there's no clear dividing line between humans and the rest of the animal world.

Here's an excerpt of their conversation, printed in Nautilus magazine:

Frans de Waal: We tend to think animals live in the present, that they don’t have a future and don’t have a past. But we know that’s not true. They can use tools to fix something for the future. In a Swiss zoo, orangutans had a skylight in their cage and dismantled the whole thing. That way they could spend summer nights on the roof of their building. Then in the morning before the caretakers came back, they would go back in the cage and put the skylight precisely back together. So no one ever noticed.

You can hear the conversation above, or read it on the Nautilus website.