Thursday, July 11, 2013

Virginia Morell

Virginia Morell's latest book is Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures.

From her Q & A with Aaron Scott at Portland Monthly:

Culturephile: You take the reader on quite a voyage across the planet and through the animal kingdom. What of the findings you came across most surprised you?

Virginia Morell: It’s difficult to choose just one. The ants were surprising on many levels: They teach other; they know exactly the size and shape of the most suitable ant-home and have ways to measure and compare spaces; when they need to reach a group decision, they basically vote. And these are microscopic ants; their brain matter is smaller than the head of a pin. Listening to the laughing rats was delightful—I never would have guessed that rats laugh. The attentiveness of elephants surprised me; they seem such stolid creatures, yet they are paying attention to everything—sounds, movements, rocks, and trees. They know when something in their environment has changed—“That rock wasn’t here yesterday!” And they know each other as individuals. Other surprises: Betsy, a border collie, could remember hundreds of names; dolphins love studying themselves in a mirror; a chimpanzee named Ai is an astonishing memory whiz—he can instantly recall all the numbers spread randomly across a computer screen.

What most delighted you?

Hearing Alex the Gray Parrot speak. In Animal Wise, I describe his voice as...[read on]
Learn more about Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Virginia Morell and Buckaroo.

--Marshal Zeringue