Thursday, August 16, 2018

"Are Cities Making Animals Smarter?"

Atlantic:

Panicked, the landlord installed four security cameras to catch the thief. The pond rested at the end of a narrow driveway surrounded by tall concrete walls, so whoever was swiping the carp had either a key or the superhuman ability to bound up nearby roofs and drop in undetected. The landlord couldn’t imagine what kind of person would steal a fish, but he was eager to find out.

...

Ratnayaka immediately recognized the animal: a fishing cat. Unlike almost every other species in the feline family, fishing cats love water. They live in swamps—specifically, the reedy wetlands that dot Asian nations from India to Malaysia. And they swim. With partially webbed feet and short, rudder-like tails, they coast along the waterways of their riparian homes, making grumbly chirps that sound like duck quacks. True to their name, they dive like Olympians from riverbanks to snag unsuspecting fish.

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Some scientists speculate that only the most intelligent members of a species can survive in a hazardous and ever-changing urban world. If so, cities may be making animals smarter than their rural counterparts.