The Chicken challenge

what contemporary studies of fowl mean for science and ethics

Carolynn L. Smith, Jane Johnson

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Studies with captive fowl have revealed that they possess greater cognitive capacities than previously thought. We now know that fowl have sophisticated cognitive and communicative skills, which had hitherto been associated only with certain primates. Several theories have been advanced to explain the evolution of such complex behavior. Central to these theories is the enlargement of the brain in species with greater mental capacities. Fowl present us with a conundrum, however, because they show the behaviors anticipated by the theories but do not have the expected changes in the brain. Consequently fowl present two challenges of interest to us here. One is a scientific challenge to explain their remarkable capabilities. The other is an ethical challenge regarding our treatment of animals with higher cognitive skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-101
Number of pages27
JournalBetween the species
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright Between the Species 2012. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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