Kamil offers ‘Bird Brain’ Neb. Lecture

Oct 16th, 2008 | By | Category: Campus News, October 16, 2008

When someone uses the idiom “bird brain,” what comes to mind might not reflect the phrase’s true meaning. During the fall Nebraska Lecture Oct. 30, UNL behavioral ecologist Alan C. Kamil will discuss how birds use their cognitive abilities to survive.

The free public lecture, “Bird Brain! Compliment or Insult?” will be at 3:30 p.m. in the Nebraska Union auditorium, with a reception following. The presentation is part of the Nebraska Lectures: Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

Birds have highly developed cognitive skills that help them solve problems such as remembering the location of food, inferring social status and detecting prey. With that in mind, Kamil challenges the traditional view of birds as intellectually limited creatures, as well as basic assumptions about the evolution of animal and human intelligence. His research interest is how birds’ cognitive abilities affect the evolutionary process.

“Calling someone a bird brain is not an insult,” Kamil said. “When you study the intelligence of birds closely, you’ll find that at least some birds have quite remarkable cognitive abilities.”

Kamil, the George Holmes University Professor of biological sciences and psychology, joined the UNL faculty in 1992. He is director of the School of Biological Sciences and was director of Cedar Point Biological Station from 1999 to 2005.

The Nebraska Lectures, which feature distinguished UNL faculty, are designed for general audiences and provide insights about some of the university’s leading research, scholarly and creative activity. Lectures are sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, the UNL Research Council and the Office of Research.

By Ashley Washburn, Office of Research

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