About intelligence, language and thinking among animals and relict hominoids

Vadim Makarov

(extracts from version in Russian)

G.Schaller writes (in back translation to English, for sure not identical to origin, - M.T.):

" Possibly, there is no other aspect as gorillas and other apes behavior, and dialogue among members in a their groups especially, that arises such general interest. Are they have embryos of languages? Or they groan, grumble and bark without any sense and purpose? As I observed gorillas at first during weeks, and then for months, some change has occurred in my estimation of anthropoids. At first I was strongly impressed by their behavior like to human’s, but then I began to feel, that they are not have the main quality. Even their expressive eyes have not ability to inform the other member about something in the past or in future and also about something that exists now but is outside their vision. In other words, gorillas have no language in true meaning of this word".

Taking in mind, that anthropoids are not capable to reproduce sounds of human speech, a group of American scientists in Nevada University (Beatrice and Alain Gardners) and Stanford University (Gerbert Terreis), made an attempt to learn them a language of deaf-mutes (amslen) and language with symbols to a computer. Both of the methods have yielded positive results. Chimpanzees Yosho and Lucy were most successive in amslen in Gardner’s group. Yosho, nine years old, knew more than three hundred words, he also learned to use them in short phrases, to form new words and even to change order of words depending on question or usual phrase. Garders fulfilled also more complex experiment. Two chimpanzees that knew language Amslen were placed in common open-air cage. The aim was to watch their communication with newborn baby. The scientists observed with satisfaction, that the mother learned the kid to some Amslen words. But unfortunately, the chimpanzees had no need in "alien" language. All described amazing achievements of young animals were games only. Human language is not necessary for adult chimpanzees. Signs, poses, and quite a small set of inarticulated sounds are enough for them.

Gorillas were also subjects to similar experiments. The difference was in using cards instead of hand signs. Most impressive results showed young Koko. It started to learn in 1972 being one year old. In 1978 it knew already 645 symbols and fluently used 345. It could say what part of its body was unwell, express some wishes, answer questions about something that happened in the past and expecting in the future.

So one may conclude that morphological abilities do not move a language ahead (anthropoids, obviously, have them). A language appears when they are present and animals have a need to use it.

Relict hominoids, as a rule, live alone. Only their mothers with children live together for a long time. But the father visits the family from time to time and stays some time near to them. In such situations contacts between different individuals are limited. There is no need in a large vocabulary for a single family. Obviously, it is enough for them those sound signals, which eyewitnesses heard:

1) High whistles which is the danger warning and expresses threat to the opponent; hominoids inform each other by following line of two-three whistles - anyway, there are cases when a man in a wood received answers similar to what he whistled himself. In the past natives of the Canary islands could send with whistles different information.

2) A loud roar which, most likely, means panic at unexpected contact with human and desire to frighten him. Some other animals do in the same way. Sometimes they smell very disgustingly ("a smell of fear"). The same is occurred sometimes even with humans - "someone became wet from fear".

3) Sounds similar to neighing.

4) Sounds reminding mooing of a cow.

5) Tender sounds of mother holding her child. With arms

6) Astonishing mumbling sounds that people sometimes hear. They are the most mysterious and are heard when several hominiods stay together. Sometimes a hominoid walking alone mumbles also. Is it their language?

For certain, there are some other sound signals else, but not so many of them. No more, than a chimpanzee has, obviously. From all told above, the only sad conclusion may be drawn: relict hominoids have no own articulate language.

But, by the way, – why they have such big brain?

If intelligence is an ability to make rational actions in changing conditions (certainly, in a certain ecological niche), many different animals have it: dolphins, elephants, dogs, monkeys, pigs, bears, cats, rats and others. In general, all animals and birds have it.

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The intelligence and instincts always existed without acting in opposition one to another. All animals have opportunities for arbitrary behavior. These are controlled by consciousness ¾ set of behavior programs for non-standard situations.

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But the basing on intelligence has not brought advantages to primates and human ancestors. The bad fortune of apes shows it. The majority of them are extinct, and the remained are close to extinction.

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American farmer Jessica Clark has made a dictionary of words which were used by Sasquatchs that lived near her farm in Tennessee. But in fact this dictionary includes about 150 words and really does not has a word of Sasquatch. They are words from different human languages: people of Shoshon tribe, Spanish, English and some other. The people speaking in the languages live in this part of Tennessee.

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But there are examples of unique hominoid behavior that differs them from other animals. Among them:

Jondor (a hominoid of Pamir) assists to his “wife” when she gives birth to a child; Jondor helped to a wounded man; Saquatch buried their dead child with departure rituals; they help people that fell in a difficult situation. Almasty use combs for hair, Gool (a hominoid in Central Asia, near to Jondor ¾ M.T.) use split sticks to catch small rodents. The last case needs some hunting steps to point the rodents into their holes with the sticks inside, a real trap. The program of these actions needs to be seen mentally by the hominoid, it is not so simple.

We must notice, that in fact such extreme performance was made for the first time in billions of years during existence of life on the Earth. The author of this invention should possess developed mind and thinking which until now was considered as the feature of human. Certainly, the human thinking in thousand times surpasses thinking of Jondor, but this superiority only quantitative. There are no key differences between them. Both of them create a virtual mental image of the changed subjects that are not exist yet. They model changes in these subjects in the nature (not seeing them in reality). It was most difficult to the first inventor ¾ the followers could see process of making and using of the "trap".

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Thus, the invention of small primitive "trap" by Pamir hominoid allows to conclude that it has already overcame the first step of the ladder which leads to Homo Sapiens.

Finally: Pamir hominoid is not an animal already, it is already one of Homo. He is like to the first Homo habilis, that appeared one and a half million years ago.

November 2005

Selected and translated by Michael Trachtengerts