May 16, 2010

Flight of fancy? The Evidence for Avian Ancestry

This is the abstract of an article I am preparing for the top science magazine Nature. I hope it is edifying. I have received positive reviews from some distinguished pigeon psychologists, which shall remain nameless and faceless for the moment. While I have never technically studied psychology or known anything about the discipline aside from what I’ve heard from those who don’t really like psychologists (largely for personal emotional reasons such as bad experiences in psych labs), I am planning to write a best-selling book closely related to the topic soon and hope (quietly) for some lucrative media spin-offs. ("The Root of All Evil" sounds sufficiently clich├ęd.) Amazon are said to be particularly interested, given the South American influences which I pick up on in a number of places in this article. Anyway, here you go:

It is widely believed that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. New evidence from behavioural psychology and difficulties with 'lateral gene transfer' and 'molecular analogy' throw this into severe doubt and re-establish the possibility of an avian ancestor of modern humans, as has been believed for millennia by the Crow people of Meso-America.
The ability of New Zealand tuis and other songbirds to imitate synthetically created “music” is legendary, but the evolutionary connection which these sounds have to actual human music has been seriously under-researched. This paper aims primarily to remedy this, with a foray into the effect of ghetto music on the motion patterns of birds living in an urban environment and also briefly investigates links between corvid tool-use and creativity and certain under-reported breeding practices of hominids inhabiting the Neandertal region of Germany circa 0.1 MYA. The final key piece of evidence explored takes advantage of recent 'phylogenetic-style' comparisons of separate research projects undertaken on pigeons and students at the University of Auckland and suggests as an additional area for study the possibility that the pigeons themselves are conducting research. This counter-intuitive hypothesis, which helps to explain a correlation between fluctuations in the pigeon and student populations, was developed only after the chemicoextralogical analysis of excrement patterns on post-graduate Arts student computer lab keyboards at the university.

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