Studies with captive fowl have revealed that they possess greater cognitive capacities than previously thought. We now know that fowl have sophisticated cognitive and communicative skills, which had hitherto been associated only with certain primates. Several theories have been advanced to explain the evolution of such complex behavior. Central to these theories is the enlargement of the brain in species with greater mental capacities. Fowl present us with a conundrum, however, because they show the behaviors anticipated by the theories but do not have the expected changes in the brain. Consequently fowl present two challenges of interest to us here. One is a scientific challenge to explain their remarkable capabilities. The other is an ethical challenge regarding our treatment of animals with higher cognitive skills.
Smith, Carolynn L. and Johnson, Jane
"The Chicken Challenge – What Contemporary Studies Of Fowl Mean For Science And Ethics,"
Between the Species:
1, Article 6.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/bts/vol15/iss1/6