Wednesday, March 11, 2009

At Hofstra University for Darwin's Reach conference

I just arrived at Hofstra University for a conference, Darwin's Reach: A celebration of Darwin's legacy across academic disciplines. Here is the program (pdf). I'm presenting on Friday on Evolution debate in contemporary Muslim world. But I'm not the only one on this topic - Daniel Varisco will be talking about Darwin's historical reception in the Muslim world. Very cool!

Apart from regular sessions, I'm looking forward to the Plenary session by Judge Jones III - who presided over the Dover Intelligent Design trial. In addition, I plan to ask Frans de Waal about the real intentions of some rogue chimps - and what are they planning next? I'm still bothered by the news that Santino - the Chimp was stashing away stones to attack zoo visitors. I'm very suspicious...

A male chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo planned hundreds of stone-throwing attacks on zoo visitors, according to researchers.

Keepers at Furuvik Zoo found that the chimp collected and stored stones that he would later use as missiles.
...

Crucial to the current study is the fact that Santino, a chimpanzee at the zoo in the city north of Stockholm, collected the stones in a calm state, prior to the zoo opening in the morning.

The launching of the stones occurred hours later - during dominance displays to zoo visitors - with Santino in an "agitated" state.

This suggests that Santino was anticipating a future mental state - an ability that has been difficult to definitively prove in animals, according to Mathias Osvath, a cognitive scientist from Lund University in Sweden and author of the new research.

Also hear this brief interview with Methias Osvath here.

5 comments:

Wellspring said...

Go Santino Go!

Don said...

What about being excited about the Keynote? Niles Eldredge, man!

Anonymous said...

I went to your session. It was very informative, and I enjoyed learning more about non-westerners' attitudes on evolution.

James F said...

I also attended your session, initially to hear my colleague Keith Miller speak, and found your talk and Prof. Varisco's to be highly informative and interesting - thank you!

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