The letter below is the published response to the story by Washington Post journalist Rick Weiss on a scientific paper presented in Nature Neuroscience Reviews, February 2005, Volume 6, "Avian brains and a new understanding of vertebrate brain evolution" by The Avian Brain Nomenclature Consortium. This international group of scientists is calling for a new set of words to describe the various parts of the bird brain as a result of "the now overwhelming evidence . . . that the bulk of a bird’s brain is not, as scientists once thought, mere ‘basal ganglia’ – the part of the brain that simply coordinates instincts. Rather, fully 75 percent of a bird’s brain is an intricately wired mass that processes information in much the same way as the vaunted human cerebral cortex." The Washington Post article is available at:
More information about the new science: http://avianbrain.org
KAREN DAVIS’S LETTER, The Washington Post, February 12, 2005:
Rick Weiss’s Feb. 1 news story, "Bird Brains Get Some New Names, And New Respect," was deeply gratifying to those of us who spend our days with birds. We have been waiting to see scientific language and understanding catch up with the reality of bird intelligence. I spend my days with domestic chickens and turkeys, birds that have long been denigrated as stupid, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Just watch a hen calculate how to speed to her perch at night to avoid a certain attentive rooster in the way, and you know that a smart chick is looking out for her own interests.
The day may come when to be called a "chicken" or a "turkey" will be rightly regarded as a salute to a person’s intelligence.
United Poultry Concerns
Machipongo, Virginia 23405
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.|
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150