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Science

Did a Genome Copying Mistake Lead To Human Intelligence? 381

A new study suggests that the sophistication of the human brain may be due to a mistake in cell division long ago. From the article: "A copyediting error appears to be responsible for critical features of the human brain that distinguish us from our closest primate kin, new research finds. When tested out in mice, researchers found this 'error' caused the rodents' brain cells to move into place faster and enabled more connections between brain cells."
Science

Should Dolphins Be Treated As Non-Human Persons? 785

Hugh Pickens writes "Dolphins have long been recognized as among the most intelligent of animals, but now the Times reports that a series of behavioral studies suggest that dolphins, especially species such as the bottlenose, have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self, can think about the future and are so bright that they should be treated as 'non-human persons.' 'Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size,' says Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University. 'The neuroanatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions.' For example, one study found that dolphins can recognize their image in a mirror as a reflection of themselves — a finding that indicates self-awareness similar to that seen in higher primates and elephants. Other studies have found that dolphins are capable of advanced cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, artificial language comprehension, and complex social behavior, indicating that dolphins are far more intellectually and emotionally sophisticated than previously thought. Thomas White, professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University, has written a series of academic studies suggesting dolphins should have rights, claiming that the current relationship between humans and dolphins is, in effect, equivalent to the relationship between whites and black slaves two centuries ago."

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