Natures wonders: orangutans use pain killer plants (Introduction)

by dhw, Sunday, April 08, 2018, 11:08 (49 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: In creatures such as insects, the ability to self-medicate is almost certainly innate; woolly bear caterpillars infected with parasitic flies seek out and eat plant substances that are toxic to the flies. But more complex animals may learn such tricks after an initial discovery by one member of their group. […] That behavior may then have been passed on to other orangutans.

DAVID’S comment: […] the above comment about woolly bears suggests their behavior is instinctual.

dhw: Everything has to have a beginning. How did the woolly bear caterpillar first learn to self-medicate? Your comment and that of the researchers simply reeks of “large organisms chauvinism”.

DAVID: I simply agreed that the orangutan usage was a local event, like the hundredth monkey story in the Pacific islands, and the woolly bear was instinct. Insects do develop instincts don't they. You just like to deploy Shapiro's quote.

The authors believe that the more complex animal must have made the discovery and passed it on, whereas the knowledge was “innate” in the less complex insect. The latter ties in with your belief that smaller organisms have been preprogrammed by your God, and only larger organisms can make discoveries and use their own intelligence. Why shouldn’t the process of self-medication have begun with an individual woolly bear making the discovery and passing it on? All instinctive behaviour must have an origin, but you and the authors assume that only large organisms can work things out for themselves. I quote Shapiro because there is no other explanation for the refusal to consider even the possibility that small organisms might be intelligent.

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