03.06 What Is Your Pet Really Thinking?
Arnold Schwarzenegger videos in with his dog Gustav to ask if dogs have a sense of humor in Bill Nye Saves the World.
Our brains use the exact same kind of cells as every other animal with a nervous system, even house flies. That is why we see complex behavior in other animals, from the society of chimps to the friendship of snakes. But how similar are we to other animals, and how similar are they to us?
MAD SCIENTISTS! with Claire Cameron Patterson (Michael Ian Black). In 1965 he discovered that cars running on leaded gas were pumping poisonous lead into the air. Lead can cause brain and nerve damage. Leaded gas wasn’t phased out until 1995. He also discovered the age of the earth.
Case File: What can we learn about humans from birds? Cara Santa Maria visits the University of Washington and researchers, Loma Pendergraft and Kaeli Swift. They study crow calls and behavior. Crows are very human in some ways. They remember faces and pass down information. They mourn their dead.
Dr. John Marzluff studies crow brains. He puts live crows in a scanner and sees how their brains react to stimuli. American crows are much smarter than most birds and are almost at the primate line in terms of intelligence. They have large brains for their body size.
Do other animals have the same intellectual curiosity or ingenuity as humans? Is there another animal who sits around inventing calculus so they can do rocket science? Or create art? So there is something that makes humans special, that separates us from the animals.
Panel of Experts: Anthropologist and primatologist at California State University Northridge Natalia Reagan is also a comedy writer and host of Star Talk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz is a professor of cardiology at UCLA, visiting the professor at Harvard’s department of human evolutionary biology, and co-author of Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health.
Do animals have morals? They probably don’t call it morals but they have altruism. They sometimes risk themselves to protect other species. They grieve.
Animals can also get depressed. We see symptoms of depression from eating disorders to anxiety. Bill Nye is adorable about how much he like animals.
One of the things we can learn from how animals behave about how we behave is that the stigma surrounding things like depression is misplaced. Non-human animals are as vulnerable to addiction, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety as humans are.
Understanding that has the potential to expand how we think about our own problems. I love how Bill Nye encourages the anti-stigmatization of mental illness.
Bill tells a story about a gorilla that lived in Seattle when he was growing up. It grew up in a family home but then was kept in a cement basement when he got too big. It was obvious to see he was depressed. Years later when he was transferred to the Atlanta Zoo the difference was obvious.
Animals are social, but do they have religions? The comedy writer in Natalia comes out when she says she hasn’t seen a baboon in church for a really long time. But what religion gives people primarily is a built-in community. And why shouldn’t animals have a sense of awe about nature that approaches spiritualism?
Case Study: Do animals like magic? Joanna Hausmann and magician Kid Ace head to the Santa Barbara Zoo to find out what animals think of human tricks. How are human brains similar to animals brains? Some social mammals might have more matter in a certain part of their brains than solitary fish or reptiles.
They show a trick to a piranha, but its close to feeding time and the trick involves live food so it’s hard to say whether it liked the trick or the food. They show a trick to elephants and they definitely react. They’re obviously surprised and excited. One elephant claps the ground with its trunk. Kid Ace is super social with the animals as if they’re a regular human audience.
They show some primates some tricks and they’re startled and curious. They try to find out where the cards actually went, looking behind his hand and trying to figure it out.
Bill Nye and Joanna run an experiment where Joanna’s arm is hooked up to a neurotransmitter that sends her brain and muscle impulses through the device to Bill’s arm. She can control Bill’s muscles with her mind and it’s obvious a pretty weird sensation for Bill Nye.
#billmeetsciencetwitter: And now for the guy who started the hashtag, entomologist and Ph.D. candidate at University of Missouri Columbia Dalton Ludwick. The purpose of the hashtag was to connect the science community to Bill Nye but to also connect science to the public. He’s researching corn and the western corn rootworm and how to control infestations to protect crops.