Question All Assumptions


From the New York Times Science Section:

“The setting was romantic enough. Sunny spring day. A cherry tree blossoming a vivid pink. One party, the suitor, was dark, fetching and amorous. But the other party lay there like a corpse. It was, in fact, a corpse.

So began the first documented human observation of a crow copulating with a deceased member of its own species.

In April 2015, Kaeli Swift, a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington who studies crows, was demonstrating one of her experiments for a film crew when she left an expired crow, stuffed by a taxidermist, unattended on the ground. A nearby crow soon swooped down upon the stuffed crow, crouching low, its wings spread wide and attempted intercourse. The move astonished Ms. Swift enough that she spent the next three springs and summers recreating these conditions and documenting the behavior.

Ms. Swift and her co-author, Dr. John Marzluff, detail that field work in a study published Monday in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Exposed to their dead, crows may touch, attack and attempt to have sex with the body, the authors explain. The study adds a new twist to previous observations that the birds primarily respond to crow cadavers as signs of danger. The conduct, the researchers speculate, may be the result of hormonal fluctuations that cause some crows to become confused about how to respond to stimuli.”


Scientists are baffled by this behavior because they assume that the living crow knows that the dead crow is dead, that sexual behavior is fundamentally about procreation, that objects and stimuli come to be related one to the other in the crows mind according to human concepts such as territoriality, competitive rivalry, survival enhancement, access to resources and the like.

The dead crow triggers the physical memory in the living crow OF ANOTHER LIVING CROW. The living crow is trying to “wave-couple” with the inert crow’s body in order to reanimate that stimulus so that it conforms to the physical memory it carries of another living crow to which it’s probably bonded.

QUESTION EVERYTHING. How? Consider an immediate-moment manner of analysis rather than human narrative construction (story telling) which uses human rational concepts such as necrophilia.


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Published July 25, 2018 by Kevin Behan
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2 responses to “Question All Assumptions”

  1. Angela Oliveira Campo says:

    That reminds me of my childhood when I used to lay down on the floor, open arms like a cross, pretending I was dead and Suzy, our dog, would come along, sniff me and then, since I wouldn’t react, start scratching my limbs with her paws “trying to wake me up”. Now I see.

  2. Kevin Behan says:

    Yes you are a physical extension of her own body and what animated you was what animates her. Networked intelligence

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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