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Donald Redfield Griffin was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and considered the founder of the modern study of animal thinking and consciousness known as cognitive ethology. He made his mark early in his career by helping to discover how bats navigate, and coined the term echolocation to describe the phenomenon.An emeritus professor of animal behavior at Rockefeller University, Dr. Griffin gave birth to the field known as cognitive ethology in 1978 when he broke a scientific taboo by suggesting that animals might have the capacity to think and reason, and that scientists should study these mental processes.In his publications, Dr. Griffin argued that the great complexity and adaptability of animal behavior, from the sophisticated food-gathering behavior of chimps to the clever fishing techniques of herons, suggest that animals are not mere automatons. Instead, he maintained, they are thinking beings, even if they might be thinking about different things, in ways entirely different from humans. Prior to this—and to a lesser extent even afterward—most scientists considered the matter of animal thinking to be a subject that belonged far outside the realm of scientific exploration. The fields natural connection to movements like animal rights advocacy continues to make some scientists wary.Dr. Griffin died in Lexington, Massachusetts, at 88 years of age. (New York Times obituary.)
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