Pigeons are commonly seen as dumb pests. People call them "rats with wings". But according to a new study, these birds are much more intelligent than we may think. Their brains have the ability to use facial recognition in the same way that we humans do:
"It is very likely that the pigeons recognised the researchers by their faces, since the individuals were both female and of a similar age, build and skin colour," says Dr. Dalila Bovet a co-author of this work from the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. "Interestingly, the pigeons, without training, spontaneously used the most relevant characteristics of the individuals (probably facial traits), instead of the lab coats that covered 90% of the body."
The fact that the pigeons appeared to know that clothing colour was not a good way of telling humans apart suggests that the birds have developed abilities to discriminate between humans in particular.
• Somehow back in February, I missed this letter written in to GQ where a concerned dude was seeking a humane alternative to leather. GQ's "Style Guy" butchers the answer, and I literally cringed while reading his lazy response:
Hell Bent for Pleather On February 09, 2011
Q: Last year I finally got rid of my beloved but completely worn leather jacket. I want to get a new one, but I'd prefer something more humane. Any thoughts on pleather?
A:I'll probably get into trouble here, but unless you're a vegan, I think it's hypocritical to be anti-leather. I'm all for humane treatment of animals. But idealism must be tempered with realism, and my feeling is that humanity is, in effect, so sel?sh that were it not for the usefulness of certain common animals, they would be endangered or extinct. If cows were not so damned tasty, they could be clinging to existence like the polar bear. So in a way, leather jackets are giving them work. Personally, I don't wear them; wool is enough for me. But I've got leather on my feet and in the car, and I like it. I just think that all animal products should be used with respect for the creature, the way Native Americans did it.
Yeah, Style Guy is getting into trouble here. Had he properly done his homework (looking to hire someone new GQ?) he would have found that there are tons of exciting alternatives to leather that are making headlines (like Suzanne Lee of BioCouture), that are supple, sustainable, made from recycled soda bottles or plant-based synthetic blends like bark and latex, and that are pretty damn cool. The leather industry is an ecological disaster from livestock production to toxic tanning, it is an unbelievably cruel industry, and contrary to popular belief, a huge amount of leather (like that coming from India) does not come from beef cattle. The idea that unless you are vegan you are required to be OK with leather is silly. Sure, adhering to religious rules is great for one's own purity, but there's no reason that anyone who wants to take a step in an ethical direction shouldn't feel great about doing so. Veganism is not a religion, it is a social justice issue. Even doing one thing, like not buying a leather jacket, helps animals. The fact that Style Guy shunned this dude for wanting to make a humane decision was really shitty. And please, the ludicrous idea that cows would be "clinging to existence" if not for us enslaving and eating their bodies, secretions and wearing skins is just stupid. Cows are domesticated animals who we helped create in the first place, whose miserable existence consists of confinement, torture, and slaughter. Is that a good life? Do unborn cattle yearn for a life of torture? Most likely not. Following this line of logic, you could justify bringing child-laborers into the world who are "bred for that purpose" who would otherwise not have the chance to live.