NOVA scienceNOW “How Smart are Animals?”

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Would you care to match wits with a dog, an octopus, a dolphin, or a parrot? You may want to think twice after watching this intriguing new NOVA scienceNOW . While we may not be ready for barnyard Barnards or sending pets to Harvard, the remarkable footage and findings presented here by cutting edge researchers demonstrate how many animals are much smarter than we think and in ways we had never imagined. Meet an American “superdog” with a “vocabulary” of more than 1,000 words, and witness as Neil deGrasse Tyson challenges the dog's genius with a new and unexpected deductive reasoning test. Then, find out why “man's best friend” is smarter than we ever thought and why dogs are the new darlings of research labs—much more cooperative than chimps and bonobos. Seemingly humble mollusks are also given their due here, not only for performing fantastic feats of camouflage in some wonderfully weird underwater sequences, but for boasting surprisingly large brains and problem-solving capabilities—like those demonstrated by one briny, brainy, eight-legged “Einstein” that easily figures out how to get tasty shrimp out of a twist-top jar. The fact that dolphins are smart is no secret to many, but viewers may be curious to see the extraordinary footage captured by NOVA scienceNOW of the creative, collaborative, and communicative behavior that is surprising even the scientists in Honduras who are studying them—including interpretation of written symbols. The episode also spotlights the groundbreaking work over 30 years of researcher Irene Pepperberg, who revolutionized scientists' notions of animal communications and shares her amazing body of research and the moving story of the untimely demise of her beloved talking parrot, Alex. “How Smart are Animals?” airs Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 at 8 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.

Media Contact:  Colleen O’Donnell Pierce
[email protected]
(602) 496-0579
(602) 478-3867 (cell)

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