Ourselves and Other Animals

A large amount of scientific evidence is compiled in OURSELVES AND OTHER ANIMALS to suggest that mankind shares more than simply the planet with the animal kingdom. Current thinking about the creatures around us has been revolutionized by evidence that their lives are just as intricate and their abilities just as extensive as man’s own. Drawing from a large body of research in ethology (the study of animal behavior), this book describes animal behavior and the wide variety of sophisticated signals that animals use for communication.

As different as humans are from other animals, we share with them an enormous array of physiological, biochemical, and behavioral characteristics. The book constantly points to parallels, comparisons, and analogies between human and nonhuman communication techniques and strategies. Many creatures use technologies that our species has only recently invented--air conditioning in termite homes, sonar in bats, heatless luminescence in fireflies. They may even consciously and collectively plan their tactics for hunting or to avoid detection by predators.

There is also evidence of signs of consciousness in chimpanzees, who appear to have an awareness of their own minds and identities. Evidently, the more complex the social interactions of a species, the more it may be driven toward evolving consciousness.

The author reminds the reader that, just as Earth is not the center of the universe, humans are only one part of a massive family tree and not necessarily the topmost branch. We do, however, differ from other animals in one important respect: We are able to pass on moral, cultural, and social restraints through communication.