Teaching parrots nothing

Renowned journalist Hector Duarte Jr. informs us of an African gray parrot who has been taught the concept of zero. How long before this parrot knows more about numbers than the typical American junior-high school student? Interestingly, the parrot is able to do this despite having a brain the size of a walnut. It’s thought that the massive dinosaur Stegosaurus also had a brain the size of a walnut, but most don’t think Stegosaurus understood the concept of zero, or even the concept of easy numbers like three. Which may be why Stegosaurus went extinct – he refused to use the powerful walnut sized brain God had given him to it's full capacity.

In his article, Mr. Duarte jr. casually remarks:

...while the language of prairie dogs was found to contain a word for humans.

I was astounded by the implications of this. Since when did prairie dogs have a language? Is it possible, I wondered, that the normally reliable journalist Hector Duarte Jr. was perpetrating a hoax? After extensive research I discovered a news story describing how, according to one scientist, prairie dogs do seem to have their own language:
Prairie dogs, those little pups popping in and out of holes on vacant lots and rural rangeland, are talking up a storm.

They have different "words" for tall human in yellow shirt, short human in green shirt, coyote, deer, red-tailed hawk and many other creatures.

They can even coin new terms for things they've never seen before, independently coming up with the same calls or words...
But who is this scientist ? His name is the utterly bogus sounding Con Slobodchikoff, and he is a biology professor and self-proclaimed prairie dog linguist. But as past experience teaches, scientists with unbelievable names doing odd animal research are more common than one might think (as to why, I don't know - yet). And it does appear that Con Slobodchikoff is a real person who thinks prairie dogs talk to him. At the moment we have no choice but to take his word for it since no one else speaks prairie dog.

Duarte jr. also states:

Studies have also shown monkeys, dogs and rats all know how to laugh.

Oh, they do, do they? I refuse to investigate this claim at all, for if it’s true I would then be forced to contemplate exactly what type of things rats find funny.


  1. Don't know about parrot, but that tangy zero carb chicken wrap at Subway sure is tasty. Mmmm chicken.

  2. I actually took a class on Animal Behavior from Con at Northern Arizona University. He is a very brilliant man. I don't know if I would call the communication that prairie dogs use "talking" but I have seen footage of the work that he has done, and he has a ton of scientific data to back up what he says.


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