According to behavioral scientists, an animal’s ability to adapt its behavior to adjust to changing situations is referred to as flexible behavior. Flexible behavior is also used as an indication of the animal’s ability to exhibit higher levels of cognitive abilities. To put it in simpler terms, the more an animal is capable of adjusting and learning new behaviors, the smarter the animal.
Evolutionary scientists believe these higher level cognitive abilities or flexible behaviors are acquired through the evolutionary process. As one organism miraculously obtains new genetic information and evolves from one kind of animal into a new kind of animal, it somehow also acquires more intelligence. (If that were true, Washington D.C. should be a mental mecca instead of the collective absence of common sense that is so readily exhibited.)
Based upon the evolutionary assumptions that lower or less evolved animals will have less flexible behaviors, they would not expect to find such traits in lower animals such as lizards. That is until now.
Behavioral ecologist Michael Leal, from Duke University has been studying six anole lizards, Anolis evermanni from Peru and has found evidence that the lizards are capable of flexible learning. He placed insect larvae under distinctively colored disks. Four of the lizards figured out ways of getting the larvae from under the disks. Then they switched the larvae and placed them under other dicks and two of the lizards figured out the switch and were still able to locate and retrieve the larvae.
They equated the lizards’ ability to adapt to the changes to that of birds in similar tests. This has led the researchers to believe that reptiles are smarter than once thought and may have the ability to learn and react to differences in the immediate environment. Leal’s conclusion was:
The lizards’ performance indicates that they, and perhaps reptiles in general, can learn relatively quickly, though they are slower moving than warm-blooded animals like birds. It also indicates that factors other than complex social structure and a diverse diet may influence the evolution of flexible behavior and more advanced cognitive ability.
As I read through this article, I had two completely different comments. First of which was to ask if they are sure the lizards were able to figure out their food puzzle or were they able to detect the smell of the larvae? Many lizards can detect minute odors and chemicals in the air. Are they certain that these lizards in the tests were not able to smell the insect larvae?
Secondly, why shouldn’t so called lower animals be able to think and reason? I’ve had snakes as pets and I’ve seen them learn and adapt to changes. One snake I had, Genae (pronounce genie) was a very smart snake. She was so named because she was a cross between two different genera of snakes: Elaphe – corn snake and Lampropeltis – kingsnake. She would watch me when I handled her, fed and the cleaned her tank. She began to react differently to my approach based upon what I was carrying (cleaning supplies, mouse, or empty handed). On more than one occasion, I would change up the routine to see what she would do. It didn’t’ take her long to change her reactions to my approach. On more than one occasion, the mouse would get away from her and hide in the wooded structure I had in the terrarium. Sometimes she would follow the scent trail to find the mouse, but other times I would watch her try to figure out where the mouse would emerge from next and then position herself in anticipation. Her behavior was definitely flexible and adapted to changes.
Besides, they already know that octopus, which are suppose to be much lower on the evolutionary scale than reptiles, have a great aptitude for figuring out puzzles, escape routes and how to open jars for food, etc. For such lowly animals, they are extremely intelligent.
Had these scientists from Duke University started with the right foundation, they wouldn’t have been so surprised. It has nothing to do with an evolutionary hierarchy. Obviously, when God created each animal kind, He gave them the right amount of intelligence, instincts and ability to adapt to changes that they needed to survive. As a biologist, I see this all time and I thank God that my eyes have not been blinded by evolution’s poison and that I can see His marvelous and wondrous hands in the Creation all around me.
Parry, Wynne. Lizards Are Wizards At Solving Food Puzzle, LiveScience.com, July 12, 2011.
by Dr. J. Y. Jones
Worship Not the Creature: Animal Rights and the Bible delivers the most forthright and engaging presentation of the Biblical view of animals in print. J. Y. Jones, long an accomplished physician, scholar, writer, outdoorsman, hunter, and man of God, is uniquely qualified to offer his cutting-edge treatment of this controversial topic. Don’t let the down-to-earth, diverting and friendly style fool you. Just as Americas wise Founding Fathers discovered latent tyranny in a penny tea tax, Dr. Jones powerfully exposes the radical political agenda of the contemporary animal rights movement. With careful argument, he reveals the animal rights movement as a potentially significant menace to liberty and even to Christianity itself. Adding Dr. Joness able apologetic for the Christian faith in reasoned and transparently personal terms, one should prepare for a rich, compelling, and enjoyable read.
About the Author: An eye physician and surgeon for almost forty years, Dr. Jones is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He has received numerous awards for writing and photography. He is a frequent speaker at wild-game suppers and other sportsmens events, and particularly enjoys sharing his Christian testimony. He has volunteered in twenty-three overseas eye-surgery mission trips. He is fluent in Spanish and conversational in Russian. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1964.