Two new interesting books

This year two interesting books were published that I’d like to give special mention here. The first book is called Unlikely friendships: 47 remarkable stories from the animal kingdom and is written by the American science journalist Jennifer S. Holland, who also writes articles for National Geographic.

Cover of the Dutch translation

The book describes 47 special cases of some form of friendschip or affection between members of two different animal species. We read about an elephant and a sheep who are inseparable, a cockatoo who carresses a cat, a baby rhesus macaque and a pigeon who sleep next to each other (see the picture of the cover), and a pitbull dog who protects and loves chicks. Also presented is the story about the signing gorilla Koko and her kitten All Ball, as well as the friendship between the orangutan Tonda and the cat T.K. (see my post “Great apes and their attitude towards other animals”). The relationships of affection between animals across the species barrier are all of a recent date and come from all over the world. Each story has some magnificent pictures of these animals, some of which are normally each other’s natural enemies. It’s an inspiring book about exceptional relationships between animals who belong to different species and is thus an example for us humans. A great book to get or give.

The second book I’d like to give attention to here is So klug ist ihr Hund [This clever is your dog]. It is written by Juliane Kaminski and Juliane Bräuer, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology at Leipzig University, who both do a lot of studies about the cognition of dogs and other animals. It has only recently been published, so there is no translation yet, but I wanted to mention it here for those who can understand German well. This is because it is a really good book, which discusses in a way that is is understandable to everyone the recent knowledge about dogs and their cognition or intelligence. Besides information about the origins and domestication of dogs and their natural communication, the book presents the current scientific state of the art about the various aspects of cognition in dogs. There is a chapter about the understanding of the seeing of others by dogs, a chapter about the interpretation by dogs of human communicative signals, about the knowledge of dogs about the material world they live in, and the differences in cognition of various dog breeds are also discussed. Of course, it also includes the research with Rico and other border collies, who can understand hundreds of human words for all kinds of objects. Besides all this fascinating information, the book also contains several small tests that you can carry out with your own dog to determine whether he or she is capable of certain cognitive feats. And this book too has many great pictures of dogs, as well as about the various studies that are currently being done on the globe with various species of dogs. So if German is not a problem for you, than this book is a must-have for anyone who likes to know more about the intelligence of dogs.

  • Jennifer S. Holland. (2011). Unlikely friendships: 47 remarkable stories from the animal kingdom. New York: Workman Publishing Company. 210 pagess.
  • Juliane Kaminski en Juliane Bräuer. (2011). So klug ist ihr Hund. Stuttgart: Kosmos. 160 pages.

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Filed under Animal Communication, Language research with animals

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