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Origins of....Species (Life Sciences)
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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A rare sight to watch a bird imitating humans having fun. A man appeared on TV with his pet raven which worried the studio hands as it wanted to play with bits of equipment, he said the main challenge was keeping it entertained.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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My response was sheer disappointment to discover that my wonderful crows should find the deeply boring activity of tobogganing to be fun.
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N R Scott


In: Middlesbrough
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Is there a link between playfulness and intelligence? Dolphins spring to mind. And monkeys. I guess most mammals. Actually, there was a documentary on BBC Four about a year ago where a guy was arguing that birds sing for the sheer enjoyment of it, rather than for simply mating/territorial reasons?

Also, I came across this; a bird rolling a snowball (keeping up the winter theme).

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/the-playful-brainy-and-destructive-kea-2/

Having seen these videos I think the Kea are probably even smarter than Crows (sorry Mick).
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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Kea. They're parrots. Why didn't you say?

In The Megalithic Empire parrots have a lot to say "Corvids can, like parrots, be taught to speak." and point out that raucous birds are of Special Megalithic Interest:

The rook's most self-evident trait is raucousness, raucous meaning harsh or rook-like, though of course it could be the other way around, the newly domesticated species being named as 'that which is raucous'. But in any event there would appear to be some correlation between raucousness and human-association since all the corvids possess the characteristic to some degree, as do parrots and peacocks


the ground having already been prepared thanks to a George-like saint called St. Goar (patron saint of innkeepers)

.... a sixth century monk famous for his hospitality, after whom St Goar, a town in the Rhine gorge at the river's narrowest point, is named. He is represented as a hermit being given milk by a hind, alternatively as a hermit with the devil at his feet, or most curiously of all with a devil on his shoulder, reminiscent of Odin and his ravens, not to mention pirates, that is pilots, with parrots on their shoulders. Medieval travellers' tales claimed that parrots 'of their own nature speak and call out to men who are crossing the desert, speaking as clearly as if they were men.'


I don't know if playfulness is seen as specially intelligent but deceitfulness has been equated with high IQ in small children.
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N R Scott


In: Middlesbrough
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Hatty wrote:
In The Megalithic Empire[...]

Is there any news on publishing? If you lose patience with publishers you should self-publish it as a Kindle e-book on Amazon (I'll buy the first copy).
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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There have been developments but more later when things are firmed up. However in the meantime people with Kindle and similar devices can assist by saying how the following are managed:
footnotes
pix that fit on book pages but not necessarily on Kindle pages
long captions that go with pix.
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N R Scott


In: Middlesbrough
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footnotes

Footnotes are one of the problems for ebooks. Since there aren't any individual pages or page numbers you can't really have them. However, you can have endnotes at the end of the book. They're essentially just like the footnotes at the end/bottom of a long webpage that you can link back and forth from.

pix that fit on book pages but not necessarily on Kindle pages

I think that when the book gets converted to Kindle format they automatically get resized. Although I'm not certain about that. I'm pretty sure that large images just get resized down to fit the page.

long captions that go with pix.

You can do this more or less the same way you would in a normal book.
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Chad


In: Ramsbottom
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"Corvids can, like parrots, be taught to speak."


We need to look into starlings too.

I had assumed the mynah bird was a corvid (there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that these are highly intelligent - as well as the best talkers) but it turns out they are in fact starlings.

Even the common European starling is quite adept at talking and in scientific studies has been shown (by programmed responses) to be better at recognising grammatical errors in human speech, than supposedly more intelligent monkeys.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Yes, I have been thinking about starlings for some time but hesitated to open yet another box-of-domesticated-tricks.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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The Good Book has been amended today to honour starlings. Anybody offering useful information re starlings within the next few days will have it included. You can be assured that you will get no credit for your material.

Corvids can, like parrots, be taught to speak. (1)

(1) As can starlings, an equally enigmatic bird but not one dealt with here. Tame corvids can conduct phone conversations with unwary callers. There are no current plans to employ corvids in the call centre industry
.
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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Wiki says starlings eat fermented fruit and that they might get 'drunk'.

Starlings have been observed feeding on fermenting over-ripe fruit, which led to the speculation that they might become intoxicated by the alcohol.[3] Laboratory experiments on European Starlings have found that they have disposal enzymes that allow them to break down alcohol very quickly


Amazonian macaws eat 'toxic fruit' too so perhaps there's a correlation between alcohol and intelligence? Not many animals would be able to take in alcohol, perhaps chimps also eat fermented fruit (wasn't there a chimp in the USA that thrived on whsky and fags?).
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N R Scott


In: Middlesbrough
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Hatty wrote:
Wiki says starlings eat fermented fruit and that they might get 'drunk'.

This might sound ridiculous, but in Middlesbrough crows have been observed drinking the dregs from discarded beer cans. I've seen them do it myself. There was a picture of one doing it in the local paper just before Christmas. I know this probably says more about Middlesbrough than it does about crows, but I thought I'd mention it.

And when I say 'drinking' I actually mean grabbing the can with their beak and tipping it backwards. I was going to mention it when it appeared in the paper but I thought it sounded too bizarre.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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The book is going to press (we have decided reluctantly to publish ourselves, via an outfit called Bookcraft) very soon. If anybody would like to help out by giving the final version a proof-read (and light edit) please get in touch at mickxharper@aol.com.
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nemesis8


In: byrhfunt
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Mick Harper wrote:
(and light edit)


Ok lets take it from the top.

"The Megalithic Empire" (Briliant, inspired)

By, Mick Harper & Hatty.

No...No...No

This just wont do...Rather than respected authors, you sound like entrants to a sheepdog trial......

N8s solution is both brilliant and obvious.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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by M J Harper & H L Vered

but do go on.
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