June 16, 2001
From: Yvonne Rozsenich
Concerning my last message, I just wanted to let you know that I treat all beings kindly regardless of their intelligence. I don't understand how you can say nudibranchs are not intelligent, I think that it is our own lack of intelligence that limits us in seeing theirs.
firstname.lastname@example.orgRozsenich, Y. , 2001 (Jun 16) Berghia intelligence. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/4582
I am sure you treat all animals with respect, but you seemed to be suggesting we should treat Berghia kindly because it was intelligent, while I feel we should treat all life with respect for no other reason than that it is part of our ecosystem. And if we don't protect our ecosystem we will all perish in the long run.
The reason that the Sea Slug Forum is visited by so many people is that the information on the site is supported by good science and accurate observations. As a professional scientist I could not ignore your comments about Berghia being intelligent because there is no evidence or research to show they, or any other nudibranch, have more than a very rudimentary nervous system and brain.
If you are interested in the subject, Eric Kandel, recently awarded a Nobel Prize for his study of brain behaviour and learning, wrote two important books on Sea Hares, which although somewhat out of date, still provide the best overall works on the topic.
• Kandel,ER (1979): Behavioural Biology of Aplysia. San Francisco, W.H.Freeman & Co. 463pp.
• Kandel,ER (1976): Cellular Basis of Behaviour. An introduction to behavioural neurobiology. W.H.Freeman & Co., San Francisco. 727 pages.
There are other studies on other sea slugs, a couple of which I list below, but on the whole there has been little work on the brain and behaviour of opisthobranchs. All that has been done suggests a very rudimentary 'intelligence' based on the feeding, mating and personal protection.
• Leonard, J.L. & Lukowiak, K .(1984) An ethogram of the sea slug, Navanax inermis (Gastropoda, Opisthobranchia). Z Tierpsychol, 65: 327-345.
• Longley, R.D. & Longley, A.J. (1981) Hermissenda: agonistic behaviour or mating behaviour? The Veliger, 24(3):, 230-231.
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