Smart Octos on ANIMAL PLANET tomorrow!

Nov 20, 2002
Late-breaking news: Tomorrow evening -- Sunday 30 March -- at 8 p.m. and then again at 11 p.m. (Eastern US Time), ANIMAL PLANET's entertaining and fascinating series "The Most Extreme Animals" will feature "The Most Extreme Thinkers". I'm happy to say that according to the AP ads, one of their Top Ten will be everybody's favorite Cerebral Ceph.

"Extreme Animals" (not to be confused with Steve Leonard's equally interesting "Ultimate Animals") is always fun.... and a bit suspenseful as the viewer tries to guess what species will be Number One in each week's countdown. Not to be missed!

TONMO's Most Extreme Shapeshifter,
Well, I watched "The Most Extreme Thinkers" on Sunday -- both times -- and it was full of surprises. :shock:

First of all, I am happy to say that the Octopus was Number Four, beating out Dogs, Honeybees, Horses, Pigs, Monkeys, and Corvine Birds (crows and ravens) -- I don't remember the exact order of the Lower Six. The usual "jar-opening" sequence was shown, and while at first presented as "armed and dangerous", the Octo was subsequently more accurately described as a gentle, inquisitive data-gatherer with an impressive neurological array, and the sequence ended with a beautiful scene of a GPO gracefully swimming along next to a diver.

Secondly, since "The Most Extreme Animals" usually compares each contender on their lists to some sort of human individual or group, I was curious as to who would earn the distinction of being equated with Octos. To my astonishment, the honor went to Mensa -- Octos being referred to as "the Mensans of the sea". They then showed people taking the Mensa admissions test, and a Mensa official getting in a shameless plug for the organization.

Now, why did I find this amusing? As an ex-member of Mensa, I can vouch for the fact that there is nothing particularly distinguished about belonging to that glorified social club for etiquette-challenged underachievers. I don't want to generalize about any group, and I'm sure there are many individual Mensans who don't fit that negative description. Nevertheless, most of the truly intelligent and good-hearted people I know wouldn't touch Mensa with a ten-foot neuron. (And lest anyone think this is just "sour grapes" on my part, let me add that I met my husband at a Mensa convention, and he only keeps paying his dues to continue getting their fairly interesting members' magazine.)

But the real shocker was what came after the Octopus segment. "Extreme Thinkers" Number Three and Two were, respectively, Dolphins and Chimps. Fair enough. But what did that leave for Number One? I knew it couldn't be us, because humans were never included in their lists. So what did that leave? The only animals I could think of were Whales (controversial, but still within the realm of possibility) or Bonobos (more likely, but could be lumped into the same category as Chimps).

Fuhgeddaboudit -- Thinker Number One was an individual Grey Parrot that lived in a university psychology lab (no, it wasn't on the faculty :biggrin2: ) who could sort out and count blocks of various colors and shapes, and allegedly had "the mental ability of a six-year-old child".

A Parrot smarter than the other nine animals listed? Gimme a break! And this "Top Ten" list didn't even include Elephants, Whales, Wolves, Big Cats, Great Apes (other than chimps), or AOL Tech Support Staff (who are at least as intelligent as Dogs, though slightly less than Monkeys).

It was a fun show anyway, and worth seeing just for the film sequences even if you disagree with the "Top Ten" selections.

"If I Only Had a Brain" :headphon:
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