Animals are often taken to be unconscious regarding the thinking processes that lie in their repertoire. Yet the fact of the matter is that they can not only think but they can feel as well. These beings trapped in the same web as us humans have sentience and can respond to adverse stimuli such as pain, pressure, heat and cold.
The human record on animal rights has not been very good since the beginning of history. What is going on today is more like a rape of Nature and the planet.
The sooner we revert to a more peaceful and sustainable mode of living rather than the heavy duty consumer society we see today, the better it would be for the planet and its inhabitants, animal or human for that matter.
Do They Feel Empathy?
Animals feel empathy. They can sympathize with another species. Even elephants and canines show signs of intelligence and a bit of planning in the actions they carry out. The human acknowledgement of consciousness in animals has come rather late. However, as the saying goes, better late than never.
The fact remains that there are not as many differences between animals and humans as has been purported from the point of view of human beings. It is more a matter of the hubris of Homo sapiens. A sort of Declaration of Consciousness is needed to free animals from the yoke of human beings.
Animals show all signs of emotions, pity, fear, pleasure, pain and remorse, according to NationalGeographic. The only difference is that they do not possess a language or higher consciousness regarding the mysteries of the universe. Yet on a physical level, animals pretty much resemble mankind.
Can They Possess Cognition?
The correct answer is a resounding “Yes”. Some of the tasks animals are capable of performing require insight and preplanning. They can do some amazing stuff. Especially animals with backbones tend to be more complex and as far as the apes are concerned, they approach the state of being kissing cousins of human beings to a large degree.
The genetic profiles of a chimpanzee and a human being are 99% the same. Yet that 1% difference is responsible for the fact that while human beings dominate the planet, chimps are in the jungles chattering in monkey-speak manner. It is here that human beings have a responsibility to act as stewards for these species which lie beneath them in the hierarchy on earth.
A person like Jane Goodall went and lived with the chimpanzees in Africa. What she discovered is that they have more to them than meets the eye. Whole complexities exist in the life of chimps like us humans. Animals have what can be called experiences. They also show a primitive sense of goal-directed behavior. For this they need foresight and insight which chimps possess in scads.
The crow has been studied by researchers and what they have found is mindboggling to say the least. Crows are tool users and apparently they have their “Eureka” moments. The results of this study were published in the journal Nature. There are over 40 species of crows around the world. The straight bills and forward-facing eyes of crows may be adapted to the handling of tools.
Crows were able to pick up sticks and force food placed as bait inside holes in logs out of its recesses. This shows they do indeed have the ability to use crude tools on a real time basis. The crows showed a lot of dexterity in their usage of the tools.
Apes and human beings are not that far apart on the mental scale as is supposed. Apes do have a rich internal universe. Where they lack is in the ability to differentiate fact from fiction. They have the same cognitive maps inside their heads.
Human beings are ahead of them though. A four year old child will develop the ability at around that age to differentiate the actual world from the fantasy-based thoughts. It is a key milestone in his or her development. Yet apes remain stuck at this critical juncture. However, they do come close to warrant further investigation into the matter.
Fish have intelligence as is evident from experiments. This is apart from dolphins which by the way are mammals and not fish. Highly social fish known as chiclids were employed for research purposes. They also tend to engage in conflict.
The fish fight it out in an aquarium. These fish showed insight regarding which fish they ought to fight and which one they ought to avoid. They were able to gauge that a certain member of their species was too tough since it had fought with bigger members in erstwhile times.
This is a very clever sense of perception that they seemed to possess. The social sense of these fish in matters of fighting puts the ability many kids have of resisting the overtures of backyard bullies to shame.
It appears to be the case that a turtle’s outer shell is a burrowing tool and not meant for protection as has been commonly thought to be the case. Turtles have a tenacious outer shell that offers the soft animal inside a great degree of security.
Yet like bird feathers, which were not originally meant for flight, these shells did not have protective functions to begin with. The original turtles used their shells to burrow into the ground.
The ribcage of the turtle was the first thing to undergo evolutionary change. While commonly in paleontology, ribcages have hardly been worthy of study, the turtle is the only exception.
Primitive man may have learnt a lot from watching monkeys. Monkeys in Brazil have been employing stone tools to break nuts since eons. Similar behavior is shown by wild macaques in Thailand.
Humankind probably copied their behavior in the past. The only difference is that where monkeys got stuck in their environmental niche a long time ago, humans kept adapting to the planetary system and thus came to dominate the planet one fine day.
Scisntists have created BMIs. These are Brain Machine Interfaces that allow animals and humans to control outer technology using only the power of their brains. Via eletrodes implanted in their brains, monkeys were able to manipulate and handle wheelchairs upon which they sat.
This seems like telepathy and magic yet that is the miraculous nature of science that it keeps breaking seemingly impossible barriers despite people saying that it cannot be done.
This experiment could serve as a prototype from which handicapped people could immensely benefit in the future. They would be able to control their wheelchairs using just the power of their grey matter. The method is similar to the use of prosthetics.
Dogs can understand basic tone of voice. They may even have a clue as to what their owners are ordering them to do. It is said that a dog is man’s best friend. Early man threw scraps of food to dogs which became constant visitors at their camping sites.
Once dogs were domesticated, they helped man in his struggles as is evident from the huskies of the cold polar regions. The experiment involved sending out various voice signals to dogs. There were those with praise, those with praise and neutral intonation and there were those with neutral words and neutral intonation.
The dogs responded with alacrity to the signals. They showed a complex ability to follow the meaning of the words shouted out to them by their owners. Thus they are by no means stupid as is commonly supposed by ignorant human beings.
Scientists have observed how certain monkeys in Brazil break stones in order to make tools that resemble the primitive flint knives made by prehistoric man. The only difference seems to be that these tools are not intentionally made. Instead they are the byproduct of the monkeys trying to extract minerals and lichen from the rocks. The research effort was published in the journal Nature by title "Wild monkeys flake stone tools".
A Final Word Before Parting…
Animals are fascinating creatures on their own. They respond in an animated and playful manner to humans. As for the fact that some of them are dangerous to man, such is only the case when they are provoked or if you enter their respective territory.
Now human beings are gaining a more thorough respect and benevolence towards animals as is evident from the number of pets kept by people especially in the West. Even pet dogs ae being clothed today and the latest thing on the scene is a television remote control for these canines.
Besides the dog which happens to be man’s most loyal helper among animals, there are other species that show signs of intelligence. They include orangutans, sea otters, gorillas, octopuses and last but not least rodents.