another brain question

Deana Weibel (
17 Oct 1996 21:37:31 GMT


I'm working on a cultural anthro degree, but I have a bio
question. Simply put, are there any researchers out there who
believe that the human brain is a product of evolution in the same
way that, say, hands and eyes are? I'm interested in animal
intelligence, and it seems to me that the complexity of human
thought could not have arisen through spontaneous generation,
meaning that structures of similary complexity and capacity should
be present in the brains of certain animals (apes, certainly, but
what about elephants, African grey parrots, whales?). I realize
scientists want to avoid anthropomorphizing the animals they study,
but I don't understand how a large gap could actually exist. Taking
Binti the gorilla as an example, how could some scientists ascribe
her "rescue" of a human child as instinctual and not intelligent,
when gorillas must _learn_ parenting behavior and don't _have_
instinct to guide them when they're not taught? How can we have a
reasonable idea of non- human intelligence when attempts to compare their
intelligence to that of humans are considered unscientific? I guess
the main question I have is why are animals often studied as
complicated machines? If we recognize certain shared physical
attributes, such as warm-bloodedness, general organ structure, etc.,
why are the more "mind"-oriented capacities of the brain considered
_not_ shared? Are they not also biologically based?

This has nothing to do with my research, but I'm curious if
anyone has any information.

Deana Weibel