Bird Brain No Longer an Insult
“Birds can perform amazing tasks beyond the reach of cats and dogs,” begins an article in the BBC News. So pay a little respect. You can still call your boss a bird brain, but had better quickly explain why that is a compliment. See also the longer article on MSNBC News.
In a related article, Jessica Ebert wrote in Nature1 that “bird-brain terminology” is undergoing a reformation. The century-old naming convention of brain parts in birds resulted from a belief that birds were primitive, possessing simple brains capable only of instinct. The distinction between bird and mammal brain capabilities is artificial, scientists now realize: “Signalling molecules and neurotransmitters operate similarly in the brains of birds and mammals. And researchers agree that birds can learn: crows can pass on tool-making skills, for example.” A consortium of neurobiologists has revamped the nomenclature to give bird brains the respect they deserve.
1Jessica Ebert, “Reformation of bird-brain terminology takes off,” Nature 433, 449 (03 February 2005); doi:10.1038/433449b.
Can your pet cat or dog sing? Fly? Talk? Migrate across the world? Solve a puzzle as fast as a bird? Don’t let the small size fool you. Birds are compressed packages of extreme design that are a wonder to behold. The diversity of skills found among birds is mind-boggling. A dinosaur couldn’t figure all this out if it wanted to, even if it knew how to select those rare lucky mutations.