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If a mark is placed on the animal, they should show signs of knowing that the mark is on their body. But what if an animal doesn't have the best vision?


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Do we just say that, because they can't perform the test in that way, they wouldn't pass? Expecting all other animals to perform similarly to humans on tests can be problematic.

This makes learning about some parts of animal behavior difficult. But, what we have learned is pretty exciting. As we keep learning more and more about animal behavior, we are continually surprised. Gunnison's prairie dogs seem to have a fairly complex language So when is this communication complex enough for us to call it a language? Elephants have been found to communicate across miles of land through subsonic sound. And when researchers slow a hummingbird's chirp down, it seems the song may be as complex as a song from some other birds, though more studies need to be done to understand this.

Do we view animal "language" as limited just because we have trouble understanding it?

How are humans different from other animals?

This Caledonian crow is solving a water level problem. It adds small blocks into columns of water to raise the water level, allowing it access to food. The crow also had to realize that one column was too wide, so the limited blocks wouldn't raise the water enough. Caledonian crows can solve problems and build tools, and can solve multiple-step puzzles that require a plan.

Are these examples of difficult problems? Where do we draw the line to say something is "difficult" enough, or that we've given an animal proper motivation to want to even solve one of these problems? Gorillas and chimpanzees have painted pictures of birds, describing through sign language that that is what they were trying to create.

If they had a goal in mind and then made it, is that a sign that they had introspection? That they are describing their own thoughts? And that they are doing it by using their own creativity?


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Seems like it might be. And animals do appear to feel joy and sorrow. There are videos out there showing a raven using a piece of plastic to sled down part of a snowy roof.

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And we continue to learn of more and more species that show sorrow, especially at the loss of members of their family or other loved ones. Animals that grieve include elephants, wolves, sea lions, magpies, and many more. One reason that human-pig hybrids are a source of anxiety is that they can conjure up a fear of our own death. The notion that humans have souls, but animals do not, was and still is for some a popular belief.

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Why do we have such a close relationship with animals? | New Scientist

It gives us a sense of being superior, above or outside the biological order. Harvesting human hearts from goats can shatter this protective belief, leaving us feeling disgusted and dismayed. By keeping thoughts of our animal nature at bay, we conveniently forget that we are nothing more than mortal biological organisms waiting to fertilise the fields. View image of Credit: iStock. We eat pigs, not humans.

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Would you still enjoy bacon if it came from the pig who had nursed your liver for the past six months? More powerfully, the prospect of pig-humans also confuses the moral compass. If confusing pets with animals we eat creates discontent, then confusing those same meat-animals with our own kind is sure to create moral and gustatory hesitation. Beyond baffling our palate, it also confounds our understanding of whether it is an animal from whom we are harvesting our next-generation organs, or some kind of sub-human entity.

In the end, while mythical hybrid beasts may have caused alarm for the Greeks, it would seem that our own objection to growing our next heart in the breast of a pig has more to do with existential angst and a disruption of the moral order. Whether or not we should use animals for these purposes, or for the satisfaction of human needs more broadly, is a topic for another time. Yet it is safe to say that our personal fear of this scientific advance — the queasiness we feel in the gut — may be mostly to do with how it destabilises our perceived human uniqueness and undermines our own moral superiority than anything to do with broader concerns over hybrids themselves.

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