The other night, Willow (our dog) was hyper yet bored. We were watching TV and ignoring her. So she started playing with her tennis ball. At one point, it rolled onto her blanket. She then decided to grab the edge of the blanket and yank it up, so that the ball went flying off to the side. She decided this was a fun game, so she chased down the ball, put it back on the blanket, and sent it flying again. She did this over and over, until she got bored of that too.
This got me thinking…can animals be creative? My research involves creativity, but I haven’t really come across (or looked for) anything about animal creativity. Most people seem to think that creativity is uniquely human. I’ve seen it referred to as the very thing that makes us human. Yet there was my dog, coming up with a new way to combine two items in a way she had never witnessed before. She then used this combination to satisfy her goals (i.e. having fun by chasing a ball). Is that creativity?
Usually we define creativity as doing something that is both novel and useful. This seems to satisfy both requirements. Maybe she wasn’t the first dog in the history of dogkind to come up with this game, but it was certainly new to her, and useful in alleviating boredom. So yeah, animals can be creative, by that definition. I’m sure monkeys and apes come up with even more amazing stuff than tossing a ball using a blanket.
Speaking of which, I’m listening to the new Gorillaz album for the first time, and it is just spiffy. Go buy it.