Oddly, I was having a similar discussion just yesterday. What I feel we are discusing is a rudimentary intelligence, not higher cognative thought. I believe it is apparent reptiles demonstrate a wide range of levels of rudimentary intelligence, some bordering on "thought". First off, it is apparent many reptiles have the ability to "learn". Call it habituation, learning, what have you, it is still the forming and retention of neural pathways, causing the ability to recognise and respond to a sensory stimulus. This in itself is a form of intelligence. Also they have the ability to discern what constitutes a suitable prey item by interpreting various stimuliand re-assessing that decision once attached to your arm. As well as other basic decisions beyond that of pure instinct.
A personal analogy comes from my Argentine tegu the other week. I had left my bathroom door open (where he currently resides), in which he came down stairs on his own accord, and proceeded to seek me out. Once fed, watered and left alone in the kitchen (not a usual place to be fed), he returned on his own, back upstairs to the bathroom and to his preferred hiding place.
Now analysing this scientifically, it is likely he associated me with food, and not just his food dish. Upon being hungry he proceeded to search me out through an unfamiliar environment. Once the basic desire for food was satisfied, he was able to retrace his path from the kitchen, by-passing the living room, up the stairs and into the bathroom.
This most certainly demonstrates some level of intelligence beyond purely instinctual behaviour. Andmany other reptile owners have simmilar anecdotes.
I also believe it is well apparent that this varies within the reptile kingdom just as it does with mammals, favouring some of the larger lizard species and some crocodillians. It is also seemingly variable with snakes.
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Last edited by Gary D.; 12-28-03 at 03:20 PM..