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I strongly suspect that recent efforts to take the birds ... this new world of more complex human like thinking. M.J.

If you are right, wouldn't a necropsy have determined some abnormal brain tissue physiology? You can be sure this bird didn't get the slam-bam type of necropsy most pets and breeders do.

Who knows?
Even if, he might not have displayed any obvious pathology read: in an anatomical sense there might have been nothing wrong, yet on a functional level his brain function might have been seriously undermined in many ways.
For, example, a regular human brain MRI shows anatomy, say a tumor, lesion, etc, (necropsy would show that), but it takes a live PET scan to show if the organ is functioning properly.
I don't think Alex was given such scans, and even if there would be few references to compare it to. Who knows what a properly functioning parrot brain PET scan image looks like?
I hope they preserved his brain tissue (bet they did) for future, more advanced testing as it becomes available.

I hope too.
I wonder if they would have admitted to something as simple as a virus or an infection brought in by an assistant's lack of hygiene. (You know me - Queen of "the germs are out to get our darlings" theory!)

I think they would admit to it if that was the case.

I sincerely think that Alexes brain over time might have reached a functional/metabolic limit to the amount of intense processing that it was capable of and this caused or contributed in some way to his early demise.

M.J.
And thinking means the same thing for a human brain ... demanding level of training, i.e. teaching the bird 'compound words.'

I strongly suspect that recent efforts to take the birds thinking to a human like level of abstraction ('compound words') may have dealt Alex a final blow. Complex abstract thinking is the stuff of most advanced creatures- primates/humans.

Bull crap. Tell that to a squirrel that is trying to get to some bird food that some human is trying to make squirrel proof. I suspect the squirrel would laugh at you. Maybe that is what they are doing with their chattering.
Dr.Pepperberg just started to introduce Alex's brain fully to this new world of more complex human like thinking.[/nq]My girlfriend had a Quaker that put ideas together to an end result by his talking. He knew that calling for "Jimmy" would bring her father and when he showed up at the cage he put that together one day out of the blue with "Freddy want" that he had been saying. And when he was asked "Freddy want what" the Quaker responded with "Freddy want a cracker." Which meant he wanted a Cheerio. He called a member of his flock over to his cage told them what he wanted and got it without having put that sequence of events in motion before.

He knew exactly what he was doing and got it done. Don't give me no crap about the bird being subjected to rigorous mental exercises to get it to communicate it's wants to a human in our language. This bird went beyond compound words to thinking his actions through and getting what he wanted with complex phrases. This bird also learned how to escape from his own cage even when extreme measures were taken to keep him in. While he was at a friends house being watched while their family was out of town, he escaped from his cage and was letting the rest of the birds that were being cared for out of their cages.

He learned a new right then. "Phooey" became a word that he used when he tried something and got caught. Every time the person that was sitting him at that time would say "Phooey" when ever she tried to catch him and he avoided being caught. It is too bad that the bird escaped one day while his cage was being cleaned and was scared off by a squirrel and has not yet returned. I have a seven week old Cherry-head conure that I can place on its back and will stay there while I scratch it's belly.

It has already learned to get on my finger on command. It has already been practicing flying and, today, surprised me when it actually pushed off from its perch and flew towards me, not very successful at flying but did manage to get to me without hitting the floor. It hasn't quite got the lift thing figured out yet Maybe it still has some baby fat to shed. It did make the attempt and is learning faster than I thought it would. I think it is even attempting to talk.

It is still being mostly hand fed.
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Can I just ask a question here? How unheard of is a bird like this dying at 31? I have ... I'm guessing it was not wildly far from 31 based on what I know of the history. Jaws didn't drop.

And a bunch of top national avian specialists could not identify the of the death? I don't think so!
Alex's death is troubling, in a sense that no cause of death has been identified, therefore all the speculation.
M.J.
Can I just ask a question here? How unheard of ... on what I know of the history. Jaws didn't drop.

And a bunch of top national avian specialists could not identify the of the death? I don't think so! Alex's death is troubling, in a sense that no cause of death has been identified, therefore all the speculation.

Is it not too early to expect a cause of death announcement?

sharon

"Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you"
C. Martin
I strongly suspect that recent efforts to take the birds ... abstract thinking is the stuff of most advanced creatures- primates/humans.

Bull crap. Tell that to a squirrel that is trying to get to some bird food that some human is trying to make squirrel proof.

Tell that to a human POW who is being interrogated hours upon hours, daily, for many weeks, and finally breaks down to tell anything and everything, who and tells that if the enemy broke his arms, or legs, or shot him he wouldn't have told, but messing with his brain, through sustained mental stress combined with sleep deprivation finally took its toll, and caused utter breakdown.
We are talking human brain here, not parrot.
Alexe was in a way "interrogated" many hours a day for many years. It is ridiculous to even think that this lifestyle had no effect upon him.
Of course the hypothesis that he was mentally worked to death is just that a hypothesis, but since no cause of death has been identified it is as good as anything else, perhaps even most plausible.

M.J.
Bull crap. Tell that to a squirrel that is trying to get to some bird food that some human is trying to make squirrel proof.

Tell that to a human POW who is being interrogated hours upon hours, daily, for many weeks, and finally breaks ... but since no cause of death has been identified it is as good as anything else, perhaps even most plausible.

After all, Alex was part of an ongoing mental experiment to test the limits of avian intelligence. The experiment ended abruptly with an unexplained, premature death of the bird.

Please do not forget, this is exactly what happened from a scientific perspective. The African Grey subject among many other things learned to count to six, or seven.

M.J.
Of course the hypothesis that he was mentally worked to death is just that a hypothesis, but since no cause ... happened from a scientific perspective. The African Grey subject among many other things learned to count to six, or seven.

I'll repeat once more!
Is this what you did to the poor creature, Ms Irene Pepperberg?

Have him worked to death by your research?
8-12 hours a day, every day, of gruelling mental exercise, just to find out where the limits of avian intelligence exist! No wonder Alex died so young.
Both you and Brandeis University should be ashamed of yourselves!

M.J.
I'll repeat once more! Is this what you did to the poor creature, Ms Irene Pepperberg? Have him worked to ... gruelling mental exercise, just to find out where the limits of avian intelligence exist! No wonder Alex died so young.

What you are describing is a death due to prolonged mental stress. fine.

Typically, when an animal, human or otherwise, is under chronic mental stress, we observe manifestations selected from several dimensions of measurable behavior and condition. A trivial and incomplete list might include significant weight change, diet selection change, blood chemistry changes, sleep disorders, hair (or feather) pulling, self mutilation, violence, copraphagy etc.
Given that Alex was, in fact, one of quite possibly the most studied parrot in all of history, one might reasonably expect to have seen evidence of some sort of stress disorders.
Where is your evidence of such stress? I've seen the same films as everyone else of Alex (some presented by Dr. Pepperberg herself, in fact) and i've never seen as much as the hint of a scintilla of evidence of any stress-related pathology, mental or physical, in the bird.

So what is your secret evidence?
Grueling mental exercise, my aunt fannie.
.max
more like the best care and play time a parrot could ever hope for.
Of course the hypothesis that he was mentally worked to death is just that a hypothesis, but since no cause of death has been identified it is as good as anything else, perhaps even most plausible.

No, it is not "as good as anything else".
Well, maybe it is. Let's apply your standards of plausibility:
I think you, , snuck into the lab and killed Alex.
.max
did you suffocate him or break his neck?
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