There is not, as far as we know, a forum where we might place bets on which non-robot species is most likely to conquer and enslave the human race, but if there were, we would place our money on the African Grey Parrot, which, scientists have recently confirmed, has the capacity to reason, a skill that places it in the same category as chimpanzees, gorillas and humans.
[E]ach parrot watched a researcher hide a walnut under one opaque cup and a seed under another. Next the researcher hid the cups behind a screen, removed one of the treats and showed the bird which one had been taken. Finally, the screen was removed to see if the parrot could work out which treat must remain, and under which cup it must be.
Only one of the parrots, a female called Awisa, was able to do this, choosing correctly in three-quarters of the tests –- 23 out of 30. "So far, only great apes have been shown to master this task," says Mikolasch.
Obviously, not all African Greys are capable of logical reasoning—though neither are all chimpanzees or gorillas, or, we might argue, humans—but even if only one in seven are, that provides the frighteningly long-lived bird with an elite class to lead the rest into battle. As an added advantage, African Greys, unlike great apes, have the ability to mimic, and perhaps speak, human language; they are also, like all bird species, notorious liars. In any event, we are likely to be saved from a future under the booted talon of rational parrots only because robots will get there first, but in the spirit of planning for all eventualities we suggest being nice to all the African Greys you meet from here on out.
[New Scientist; image via Shutterstock]