Every pet owner thinks their own dog, cat, fish or hamster is a genius. What makes Can Fish Count? so exciting is the way it unveils just how widespread intelligence is in nature.
Pioneering psychologist Brian Butterworth describes the extraordinary numerical feats of all manner of species ranging from primates and mammals to birds, reptiles, fish and insects. Whether it's lions deciding to fight or flee, frogs competing for mates, bees navigating their way to food sources, fish assessing which shoal to join, or jackdaws counting friends when joining a mob – every species shares an ability to count.
Homo sapiens may think maths is our exclusive domain, but this book shows that every creature shares a deep-seated Darwinian ability to understand the intrinsic language of our universe: mathematics. Can Fish Count? is that special sort of science book – a global authority in his field writing an anecdotally-rich and revelatory narrative that changes the way you perceive something we take for granted.
Brian Butterworth FBA is emeritus professor of cognitive neuropsychology in the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, working on the genetics and neuroscience of mathematical abilities and disabilities. He is a fellow of the British Academy and the author of The Mathematical Brain, as well as of several academic books. He lives in London.
"What I like best about this fascinating book is the detail. Brian Butterworth doesn't just tell us stories of animals with numerical abilities: he tells us about the underlying science. Elegantly written and a joy to read"
– Professor Ian Stewart, author of What's the Use? and Taming the Infinite
"Full of thought-provoking studies and animal observations"
"Enlightening and entertaining"
– Publishers Weekly
"His densely detailed but remarkably clear exploration, illuminated by fascinating experiments, maps our understanding of numeration in the animal kingdom"