On the other hand, a movement is "learnt," or embodies a "habit," if it is due to previous experience of similar situations, and is not what it would be if the animal had had no such experience.
To begin with, many instincts mature gradually, and while they are immature an animal may act in a fumbling manner which is very difficult to distinguish from learning.
To take extreme cases, every animal at birth can take food by instinct, before it has had opportunity to learn; on the other hand, no one can ride a bicycle by instinct, though, after learning, the necessary movements become just as automatic as if they were instinctive.
* The scientific study of this subject may almost be said to begin with Thorndike's "Animal Intelligence" (Macmillan, 1911).
Then the successful movement always occurs during the animal's attempts, whereas each of the others, on the average, occurs in only half the attempts.
The frigate approached noiselessly, stopped at two cables' lengths from the animal, and following its track.
At this moment, leaning on the forecastle bulwark, I saw below me Ned Land grappling the martingale in one hand, brandishing his terrible harpoon in the other, scarcely twenty feet from the motionless animal. Suddenly his arm straightened, and the harpoon was thrown; I heard the sonorous stroke of the weapon, which seemed to have struck a hard body.
For thine animals know it well, O Zarathustra, who thou art and must become: behold, THOU ART THE TEACHER OF THE ETERNAL RETURN,--that is now THY fate!
And if thou wouldst now die, O Zarathustra, behold, we know also how thou wouldst then speak to thyself:--but thine animals beseech thee not to die yet!
When the animals had spoken these words they were silent and waited, so that Zarathustra might say something to them: but Zarathustra did not hear that they were silent.
Towards himself man is the cruellest animal; and in all who call themselves "sinners" and "bearers of the cross" and "penitents," do not overlook the voluptuousness in their plaints and accusations!
Again, all recent experience shows that it is most difficult to get any wild animal
to breed freely under domestication; yet on the hypothesis of the multiple origin of our pigeons, it must be assumed that at least seven or eight species were so thoroughly domesticated in ancient times by half-civilized man, as to be quite prolific under confinement.