Animal Architects and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more


or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Trade in Yours
For a 0.25 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 
Start reading Animal Architects on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Animal Architects: Building and the Evolution of Intelligence [Hardcover]

James L. Gould , Carol Grant Gould
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 15.99
Price: 15.72 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
You Save: 0.27 (2%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Usually dispatched within 8 to 12 days.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 9.65  
Hardcover 15.72  
Paperback 10.16  
Trade In this Item for up to 0.25
Trade in Animal Architects: Building and the Evolution of Intelligence for an Amazon Gift Card of up to 0.25, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Book Description

5 April 2007
From two of the world's most distinguished experts in animal behaviour, this book offers a radical, creative, and accessible new approach to understanding animal minds through the structures they build. Animal behaviour has long been a battleground between the competing claims of nature and nurture, with the possible role of cognition in behaviour as a recent addition to this debate. There is an untapped trove of behavioural data that can tell us a great deal about how the animals draw from these neural strategies: the structures animals build provide a superb window on the workings of the animal mind. "Building Minds" examines animal architecture across a range of species, from those whose blueprints are largely innate (such as spiders and their webs) to those whose challenging structures seem to require intellectual insight, planning, and even aesthetics (such as birds' nests, or beavers' dams). Beginning with instinct and the simple homes of solitary insects, James and Carol Gould move on to conditioning; the "cognitive map" and how it evolved; and the role of planning and insight. Finally, they reflect on what animal building tells us about the nature of human intelligence - showing why humans, unlike many animals, need to build their castles in the air.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465027822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465027828
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.3 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

"(t)he amazing animals feats recorded in this book may have presaged our own emergence as master builders." -- The Daily Mail, April 13th 2007

"(t)he amazing animals feats recorded in this book may have presaged our
own emergence as master builders." -- The Daily Mail, April 13th 2007

"(t)his book is enhanced by elegantly simple line drawings and is packed with seductive descriptions of which animals build what, and why." -- BBC Focus, April 2007

"(t)his book is enhanced by elegantly simple line drawings and is packed
with seductive descriptions of which animals build what, and why." -- BBC Focus Magazine, April 2007

"The story of this amazing and beautifully written little book is one of humans very gradually, and only through gritted teeth, admitting that other animals, down to the apparantly humblest insects, are more intelligent than was ever suspected." -- The Guardian, April 14th 2007

"The story of this amazing and beautifully written little book is one of
humans very gradually, and only through gritted teeth, admitting that other
animals, down to the apparantly humblest insects, are more intelligent than
was ever suspected." -- The Guardian, April 14th 2007

"Two experts in animal behaviour explore the structures animals build, providing a radical new model for understanding animal minds. The complexity of many of these structures, and the evident capacity of their builders for forward thinking, adaptability, improvisation and even aesthetic appreciation, raise potentially troubling questions about the supposed gulf between human and animal intelligence." -- The London Review of Books, May 2007

"a challenging new study...Animal Architects is not so much an exploration of gee-whiz wonders of the things that animals make, but an investigation into the mental processes required to make them". -- The Times, April 2007

"a notable achievment... highly readable... Animal constructions are fascinating, and the authors provide some useful insights into them." -- Nature, April 12th 2007

"a notable achievment... highly readable... Animal constructions are
fascinating, and the authors provide some useful insights into them." -- Nature, April 12th 2007

From the Inside Flap

"In Animal Architects, James R Gould and Carol Grant Gould beautifully
describe some of the architectural wonders of the animal kingdom...there is
no doubt that the Goulds succeed in ... captivating the reader with their
enthusiasm and encyclopaedic knowledge of the biology of building."

The Times Higher Education Supplement, May 2007


Inside This Book (Learn More)
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maps charting reasoning 25 Jun 2008
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover
Asking a lone wasp dragging a cricket across a paddock how she finds her way home won't elicit much response. Interrogating a honeybee about why she's doing this task now, while she was engaged in something entirely different a short time ago will net you little information. The Goulds, however, delve into some of the motivations behind animal behaviour. In this easily accessible volume, they provide some interesting and challenging answers to the question of how animal minds work. In doing so, they overturn some long held misconceptions - most notably the one that declares only humans have broken the bonds of innately determined behaviours.

This is highly speculative material, but the proposals are well thought out and amply supported by the workers cited. The underlying proposal is simple: the other animals are only slightly more prompted by innate drives than we are. Categorizing the behavior of other animals as "just intuition" is demonstrably fallacious. Whether we label it "reasoning power" or "cognitive ability" is irrelevant. The point is that even that solitary wasp is confronted with the need to make decisions that will take her from a fixed path. She can, and does, survey changed conditions in order to achieve a desired goal. She is not fixed in her responses and can adapt using her mental resources efficiently.

The authors use various forms of "mappings" to explain how variations of cognitive capacity and ability are found in nature. That solitary wasp, for instance, needs to locate the burrow where she's left her egg. Somehow, tucked in her miniscule brain, there's record of landmarks around that tiny hole in the soil, allowing her to move with confidence. Shift the landmarks - a stone or twig - and she's confused.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alien Intelligences, and How To Evaluate Them 2 May 2007
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What do animals think? That is a pretty advanced question; after all, a lot of human thought has gone into denigrating even the possibility of thought in animals. We accept, perhaps reluctantly, that some animals can hear better than we can, for instance, and certainly some are faster or stronger or bigger. It is well accepted, too, that we do a better job of thinking and abstracting ideas than any other creature does. It is also clear that any thinking that animals do is a lot different from what we do, since our thinking is so heavily freighted with symbolic language. "Mental activity is, by its nature, private; what goes on in the brain has to be inferred. In tracing the evolution of cognitive strategies, the most tangible evidence is found among animals that build - in what they build and how they build it." So write James R. Gould and Carol Grant Gould in Animal Architects: Building and the Evolution of Intelligence (Basic Books). The book is packed with examples of animal creations and thoughtful, careful, unexaggerated attempts to understand what is going on in the minds of the builders from the insect, bird, and mammal worlds. The thinking of other animals is, by turns, quite different and quite similar to our own, and throws light upon evolution of brains and behavior in general and upon our own evolution.

The Goulds are always on the lookout for the most parsimonious explanation of behavior. For centuries, people thought that animals just acted on instinct and nothing more, and indeed there are plenty of examples here of such behavior. Many insects, the Goulds say merrily, "... lead intellectually unchallenging lives." But spiders and the social insects show that they are not acting like mere robots, but have some understanding of the larger purpose of their activites. Flexibility and understanding are surely shown by many birds, although plenty of their behavior is robotic. Nest building is often a planned activity and can be studied and experimented upon. Pigeons just toss sticks at their nest site, and the friction between the rough twigs holds them together eventually. If you give pigeons only smooth dowels to build with, the result is an unstable mess; if you give both dowels and twigs, they will preferentially use the twigs. Complex behaviors in nest building evolved from scraping sand or twigs together; once birds had learned to build a platform for a nest, they developed ways of piling sticks or mud and sticking the results together with saliva. Nest-building is an activity that cannot be completely hardwired, because in general no two nesting sites are the same; there has to be flexibility in behavioral options that can be selected, ordered, and modified to achieve the goal of a functional nest. Nests are practical structures, but bowerbirds make their elaborate creations with no purpose other than to impress other bowerbirds. They stack the bowers and decorate them with paint from berries and with shells and rocks and butterfly wings. The variety of the bowers seems to indicate that building behavior is not encoded in instinct and is also not due to rote memorization. Observations over the past 125 years show that builders go through fads of favoring one flower as a bower decoration over another. Darwin wrote that bowerbirds have a sense of beauty, and the proposal that bowerbirds have an aesthetic sense is not frivolous.

The many examples given here show that there is evidence for some degree of understanding in many of our fellow creatures. When experimenters can manipulate the circumstances of the building of structures, it is clear that some animals can compensate for unusual situations, use novel materials, and have an understanding of an end goal. (Beavers seem to do this in the highest degree, engineering their dams and lodges.) The building of structures and the manipulation of objects toward a purpose are things we ourselves probably started doing as primates, starting out with less skill than some of the animals described in this book. It is probably impossible for us to fully understand the alien intelligences of spiders or birds, but the Gould's book is a welcome reminder that intelligence does not belong to us alone.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed review 1 July 2007
By Anna Karenina - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Gould and Gould write about a fascinating subject. Unfortunately, the book is not as readable as it could have been. The authors have a bad habit of getting into new topics with a welter of detail and only then coming back to basics or making larger points or providing context. The result is that I'm often lost--what's the species they're talking about? What are the basic facts about it? I keep asking myself who their intended reader is. I think they intend to speak to a general audience, but they don't think enough about this audience's needs. The book is written in a plain textbook-like style, without much poetry, context, allusion to bigger issues, or the like. Still, I have learned quite a bit by reading it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maps charting reasoning 25 Jun 2008
By Stephen A. Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Asking a lone wasp dragging a cricket across a paddock how she finds her way home won't elicit much response. Interrogating a honeybee about why she's doing this task now, while she was engaged in something entirely different a short time ago will net you little information. The Goulds, however, delve into some of the motivations behind animal behaviour. In this easily accessible volume, they provide some interesting and challenging answers to the question of how animal minds work. In doing so, they overturn some long held misconceptions - most notably the one that declares only humans have broken the bonds of innately determined behaviours.

This is highly speculative material, but the proposals are well thought out and amply supported by the workers cited. The underlying proposal is simple: the other animals are only slightly more prompted by innate drives than we are. Categorizing the behavior of other animals as "just intuition" is demonstrably fallacious. Whether we label it "reasoning power" or "cognitive ability" is irrelevant. The point is that even that solitary wasp is confronted with the need to make decisions that will take her from a fixed path. She can, and does, survey changed conditions in order to achieve a desired goal. She is not fixed in her responses and can adapt using her mental resources efficiently.

The authors use various forms of "mappings" to explain how variations of cognitive capacity and ability are found in nature. That solitary wasp, for instance, needs to locate the burrow where she's left her egg. Somehow, tucked in her miniscule brain, there's record of landmarks around that tiny hole in the soil, allowing her to move with confidence. Shift the landmarks - a stone or twig - and she's confused. Her Local Area cognitive map has become unreliable. Yet, if she's typical, she'll have other nests - each with their own landmarks to tax her mental map. Moving up the cognitive ladder, there are wasp groups who build nests of mud or paper. They must perform a sequence of operations in the construction process to ensure the nest is the proper shape, weight and balance. From this start, the Goulds demonstrate how animal constructions reflect cognitive abilities requiring decision-making and adaptive variations. From the complexities of spiders building webs, birds constructing an extensive variety of nests and beavers' wide-area engineering projects, "animal architects" refute our common belief that "instinct" is the central controlling factor.

The Goulds propose that cognitive mapping can be shown to advance from the individual and its surroundings, through various levels of complex reasoning needed to complete the organism's task to complete a goal. It's important to note that these are in no way predictable, hence, innately driven, steps. Adjustments must be made for local conditions. When those adjustments mean interacting with co-workers in different ways, then the group must make decisions. The authors use bees as a significant example. Too often classified as a "socialist" species, the Goulds demonstrate honeybees are the finest example of free enterprise in Nature. Individuals must shift roles as conditions change, with each bee making independent decisions on a course of action. The steps involved require the insect to sift through several available options, using mental processes the authors describe as "Tiers". Sets of Tiers may include Local Area Mapping, Social Mapping - which likely includes Hierarchical Mapping of status, and the ultimate, Network Mapping where many forms are brought together to complete one or several tasks.

This book is awarded five stars with some reluctance. Although the ideas themselves are well presented and supported by good examples, a glance at the "Readings" for each chapter gives one pause. The list suggests that little on these topics has been published during the past generation - except their own, of course. The authors deal with many forms of life, with insects predominating. Yet, their only reference to Edward O. Wilson is a single work. John Alcock's studies don't appear, nor do those of Bert Hölldobler, Thomas Eisner, Bernd Heinrich or other workers. None of those researchers' efforts would challenge the Goulds' proposals and their omission is an enigma. Instead, there are long renditions of the pioneers in various related fields. Valuable, but necessarily incomplete. Even so, this work is too innovative and challenging to ignore or dismiss lightly. Cognition, whether human or other animal, is a significant field, growing rapidly. The authors list many topics requiring further study. One can only hope this book will inspire younger readers to take them up and help resolve them. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Even Frank Lloyd Wright had blind spots 19 Jun 2007
By Vic Ridgley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Gould and Gould lead us through a fascinating review of animal 'intelligences,' as manifested by the increasingly complex nature of structures constructed by insects (ants, termites, spiders, bees, wasps), birds (raptors, waders, and passerines), and mammals (love those beavers!). The underlying arguments are that (1) some of the construction behaviors of specific species may be primitive, instinctive and repetitive, but other species on the 'same' phylogenetic level have clearly learned to adapt and modify their structures to account for variation in available materials; (2) the adaptability translates to more reproductive success, allowing the type animal to colonize more niches; (3) the variety of structural solutions acts as a feedback loop in brain development, which culminates in (4) an enhanced mental capacity which equips an animal to cope with variety better.

Progressing from seemingly hard-wired to adaptive examples in all sorts of animals, the authors remind us that some types of 'intelligence' are the result of habitual practices which work in habitual situations. Thus, the example of pigeons successfully building a nest by randomly dropping twigs works only because of the friction of twig surfaces in contact. Given smooth dowels, the pigeon cannot construct a usable nest.

At the same time, they remind us that the seemingly brilliant engineering behavior seen in beavers - that is, the ability to regulate streamflow year-round and create protected dwellings - is NOT matched by a corresponding ability to fell trees intelligently: They cite examples where beavers jointly gnaw on the same tree at different heights, resulting in an unsuccessful felling, or fail to take full advantage of partly felled trees.

Perhaps the biggest lesson one could take away from this comprehensive look at animal architecture is that individual species are endowed with selective abilities that permit generational survival, but the abilities themselves aren't easily transferable to a general notion of intelligence applicable to other areas of activity. Put another way: Animals are 'smart enough' to cope with their normal environment, but their 'smarts' are inevitably narrowly focused.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science writing at its best 25 July 2007
By A. Khosla - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Every now and then a science book comes along that allows science to be shared with those of us without a PhD in the field. Gould's honeybee book, and this book are wonderful - thought provoking, insightful, and expressive of the true nature of science - to determine the truth via scientific experiments.

I share some reviewers concerns that the book is hard to read. No-one ever said thinking was easy. But if you are fascinated by animals, or biology, or animal behavior I cannot think of a better book. It is simply wonderful.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category


Feedback