WHAT CAN THE STUDY OF ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR TELL US ABOUT HUMAN BEHAVIOUR?

Researchers and scientists study the behaviour of animals so that they can find reasons as to why human beings act the way that they do. Animals give insights as to why humans behave the way that they do. It is important to note that as much as there are similarities between man and animals, there are also differences. Different species have different characteristics. Some animals have fur while others have scales. Some can produce sounds while other cannot. Others have to mate with the opposite sex for reproduction while other lay eggs that are fertilized inside the body of the animal (Darwin, 1989). However, some characteristics lay across the entire beings in the universe. For instance, all animals reproduce, all animals have the ability to feel pain and react to stimuli. How they react to pain and stimuli is what varies across the spectrum. Similarities between animals and human beings include the same body structures with few variations. For instance, the physical appearance of apes is almost similar to that of human beings. The slight difference is the amount of hair in their bodies. This could however be attributed to the different environments in which they live. Since apes live outside in the cold, the hair on their bodies help them to stay warm and to protect them against their environment. Human beings do not need as much hair since they can live in warm houses and are rarely exposed to the dangerous environment (Descartes, 1998).

Behaviour in animals can be used to investigate the usefulness of drugs. For instance, scientists experiment on drugs by using them on animals. The most used animals are the apes since they are considered the closest relative of the human species. The reaction from the monkeys is what guides the scientists on how the drug works and how beneficial it would be to the human beings. If the drug is dangerous to the animal, then the likely effects will be felt in the human body. The behaviour of the animal is likely to predict the way the person will react to the drug. Since different species react differently to certain types of stimuli, scientists can find out why they react differently and how information is decoded in their brains (Gill, 1977). The study of animals can help us find likely cures to certain illnesses. The disease pathogens are usually introduced in the system of animals and then the various drugs tested on the animal to find which is most suitable. This is usually the first step in inventing a drug. Experimenters have to use animals before they can use human subjects. It is illegal to use a new drug on a human being before it is tested on an animal. Rats or mice are among the animals that are used in testing drugs. The drug may at times not work human beings the way it works in animals but the differences between the various species can be used to leverage the two (Gould, 1996).

The difference between animals and human beings is first that human beings are self-aware. Human beings know that they exist and understand how their bodies work. They are able to understand the various functioning of their bodies and can reflect on the real meaning of life. They are able to question their very own existence. Human beings are responsible for their actions and usually have reason to do what they do. Animals on the other hand cannot comprehend why they exist (Libaw, 2000). They lack the ability to think critically on certain issues that affect them. Animals are controlled by their instincts and cannot choose between what is wrong and what is right. If their bodies require themto eat, then they will look for food until they are able to get food. Human beings can control what they eat; they can postpone eating until it is appropriate to do so. They can question the wrong things that happen in the society. This is because man is considered to have a higher intellectual ability as compared to animals. Their brains are more developed than that of animals. This is the main reason that they can make sound decisions which are helpful to them (Marks, 2002).

Man has a better mind capacity than animals because they can invent things that other animals cannot make. They have the ability to be creative and think of ideas that will make life easier for them. For instance, man came up with fire that they could use to cook their food. As much as they eat the same food that animal consume, they consume it in a more refined form than animals do (Wilson, 1996). Human beings have built homes that protect them against harsh weather conditions. While some animals such as birds build their own nests, they are conditioned to do so and do not think for themselves. For them, it is more of an instinct rather than creativity. It the brain of human beings is conceived to have the ability to think more than that of animals. Human beings have taken measures and steps to take care of themselves (Rachels, 1990).

Human beings have more developed cognitive abilities. This is because they can communicate using clear words and sentences. Even though languages vary from one country to another, they can clearly understand each other. Animals on the other hand release some sounds and even though some species can communicate effectively among themselves, they do not have such an advanced system of communication that human beings have. They use sounds such as hissing for snakes, grunts and moans. These sounds are used to show or depict different things at certain times (Wilson, 1996). There is a specific sound for pain, another for happiness and another to warn other animals of an impending danger. These sounds may at times be misinterpreted and therefore they are not as clear as that of human beings. The superior cognitive abilities of human beings can be attributed to a superior brain function. Furthermore, man has the ability to remember things that happened long ago so that they do not repeat the same mistake over again. They are able to use their experiences in making a better future with fewer mistakes. Their memory serves them and that is why they can advance forward (Libaw, 2000).

Human beings have the ability to use complex tools to create things; they use nature to serve themselves. Their brains are wired in such a way that they recognize opportunities and use the opportunities for their advantages. Human beings can learn new things all the time and use the knowledge learnt for their advantage for the rest of their lives. For instance, when a toIDler is being taught to walk, they will have the knowledge of walking with them for the rest of their lives. Animals on the other hand can only be trained. The training is dependent on whether it is carried out continuously or not. Animals forget very easily and once they are taken to an environment that does not use the training, they are likely to revert to their instinctive ways (Wilson, 1996).

Even though both animals and man experience emotions, human beings experience them more. Human beings are able to feel anger, sadness, happiness, compassion, joy, grief. They experience a wide range of emotion when they give birth they are birth, when they fight with important people to them they feel sad. Animals on the other hand can only feel hunger and pain. They do not have relationships with one another and are therefore incapable of feelings such as compassion (Gould, 1996). They however tend to show affection to their offspring. Since animals do not comprehend what sadness is, they do feel it when one of them dies. For instance, studies indicate that elephants experience sadness when one of them in the pact is killed. Young elephants are shown to express sadness by refusing to move away from their dead mother. This shows that they feel sadness to some level. However, they can rarely feel sadness towards any other animal of another species. The rule of the jungle is survival for the fittest. The strongest animals survive and the weakest animals are either eaten by the stronger animals or die of natural causes (Marks, 2002).

When it comes to mating, different species have their own characteristics. For instance, human beings normally have an emotional relationship with the people that they mate with and produce children with. When they are mating, emotions are involved and they deeply care for each other. However, there are some cases where the two people involved do not care for each other such as the case in a rape. Normally, there are two consenting adults. Human beings do not mate with the first person that they come across when there is the urge to mate. They wait for a specific person that they are committed to (Fouts, 1997). Animals on the other hand mate whenever the urge arises irrespective of the place and time. They have no ability to feel ashamed by their actions and do not attempt to hide themselves. When they are finished mating, each one of them goes their separate ways. If offspring are conceived, it is the responsibility of the mother to take care of them. Human beings take joint responsibility of their offspring. If one party refuses to take care of their child, then the other party can move to the courts to compel them to take care of their children. This is because human beings have a higher capacity than human beings and understand that the child has the genes of both the mother and the father (Libaw, 2000).

Human beings and animals react to different situations in different ways. All species can be able to sense danger when it is coming and act in was to avoid dangerous situations. However, some animals react by running away while some react by confronting the danger. However, animals are unable to learn from experience. For instance, animals would go to a specific area even if they had experienced a dangerous situation in the past in the exact spot. They are unable to learn that there is danger at the same place. Human beings however learn from previous mistakes. If they had encountered a dangerous moment at some place, they are likely to avoid going to the same place in the future to avoid the same situation (Gill, 1977).

The differences that are present between man and animals show that human beings are more developed than animals. Other people may argue that each species has adapted to the environment in which they have found themselves in. It remains that human beings are superior since they have made far more advances to the environment than what animals have done. Human beings are the only species that have made huge steps towards advancement and the rest of the animals still live in forests under nature (Descartes, 1998). Even the closest relatives to man have been unable to make the steps that have been made by man. The apes still live in the forests and hunt for food. While man hunts for pleasure, animals hunt for food. This was however not the case in the past where man hunted for food as well. The steps they have taken to make their lives better have enabled them to move towards civilization.

However, the insights on animals can be used to identify why human beings are superior to animals. The most obvious reason is that human beings have a better developed brain than animals. They are able to make better decisions that benefit them and always have the long term goals in mind. They have been able to make their environment adapt o them rather than the other way round like animals. Animals have been unable to use the environment to make them more comfortable. Higher brain capacity is the reason why human beings are more capable than other animals. Primates have been able to show a higher capacity of intelligence than other animals even though they still do not match those of human beings. They still have a long way to go to match the intelligence to man (Wilson, 1996).

Even though there are many differences between human beings and animals, it is clear that there are some similarities. The systems of human beings and most mammals work in the same way. Things that are dangerous for animals could be said to be dangerous for human beings. Most new drugs are tested on animals such as mice and primates to determine their effectiveness and maybe their dangerous levels. Scientists or researchers would not use these animals if they were not in any way similar to human beings. What would be dangerous for animals would potentially be different for human beings (Gould, 1996).

Mammals share other characteristics with human beings. For instance, both animals and human beings carry their infants in their wombs until they are able to live outside the womb. AIDitionally, they produce milk that they feed their infants with until their digestive systems can withstand other types of food. Mammals take care of their infants until they are independent. They form relationships with their offspring. They are very protective of their offspring. Usually, they attack any animal that threatens them. If they sense that there is any danger, then they would move to protect their children from danger (Fouts, 1997). This relationship in human beings is stays for the entire life of the human being. Reptiles on the other hand, lay eggs which mature outside the body. While some have the ability to form bonds with their offspring, most leave them to fend for themselves. In the process, most of the die because they are not used to the harsh life and only the fittest survive in a process known as natural selection. Natural selection is a process where nature selects the strongest and the most viable ones in the pact. The weakest ones usually die along the way. This way, nature ensures that only the best are able to survive (Libaw, 2000).

Man and animal bear close similarities. They are not only similar body wise but also in their behavior. For example, Human beings and monkeys share close similarities. The evolutionists have a belief that the similarity usually points out to a shared or common ancestry. The animals that resemble each other or the human species often indicate the existence of a relationship. The relationship causes them to behave in a similar manner. For instance, the evolutionists explain that a man bears similarities to a monkey because he might be a near kin to a monkey: they share a common ancestor. Time is a major factor. The evolutionists believe that millions of years have passed since man evolved from an ape to where he is currently (Rachels, 1990). To illustrate this further, man does not look like an elephant. However, he is more similar to an elephant than to a jellyfish. It can thus be concluded that an elephant is a distant cousin of a man. Looking deeply into the beliefs of the evolutionist, one finds that they believe that all life forms began in the oceans as a living cell (original ancestor). From the living cells in the ocean, different life forms sprouted. These life forms are evident with the many species in the world now. Therefore, the singularity of ancestor between human and animals can explain their similarities.

Further similarities include that animals grieve, they experience emotions, and that they have souls. All the animals experience deep, rich emotions that they use to express the emotions that they feel. The emotions are gifts given to us by our animal ancestors. All the animals have feelings. The emotions experienced by the animals, (humans included), have evolved over time and seasons. It is no longer considered a matter of if the emotions evolved but rather why they evolved to become what they are now (Marks, 2002). Animals exhibit different emotions. One of these emotions is grief. Grief is an emotion that many animals show clearly. Animals and humans display grief when they lose a close friend acquaintance or a loved family member. Konrad Lorenz (1970) captured a perfect example of a grieving animal. He points out that a graylag goose whose partner is lost will develop grieving symptoms. The symptoms will involve sunken eyes, and a drooping experience leading to a hanging head. Further grief has been seen in other animals as the sea lion and elephants. The sea lion mothers wail pitifully as killer whales cannibalize their young ones. Elephants also are known to mourn the death of their kin (Descartes, 1998).

The animals and human beings also have similar social structures. The animals live together in groups. For example, lions usually stay and hunt together in a pride while herds of elephants move together forming small social groups. Within the groups, there exists an established hierarchy. The hierarchy has its leader. The level organization in the animal kingdom is amazing. The leaders of the groups are not voted in as in the case of human beings democracies. The leader in most of the cases is young, energetic and is seen to possess the superior gene. The animal’s organizational setup is efficient and similar to human beings (Gill, 1977). The setup of the social units is similar to those that have been put in place in man’s societies. Human beings on the other hand are grouped in continents then countries. Within everycountry,various tribes have their own leaders. Human beings are more civilized and therefore elect their leader using votes and the most popular one is chosen. In animals, the animals may have to fight to establish leadership. The strongest animal is the one that becomes the leader (Fouts, 1997).

The processes that lead to similarities between human beings and animals vary widely. They are dependent on how close the biological relationship is. As it has been shown, that is the reason man closely resembles the apes. Apes according to the evolutionists were man’s ancestor. Man is a primate. The other primates like the apes, chimpanzees, and gorillas behave in a similar way to humans. Therefore, some of the behavior expressed by humans is not exclusively identified in human beings. Such behaviors like emotions and physical similarities are not limited to the human beings (Gould, 1996)

References

Konrad, L. (1970). Studies in Animal and Human Behavior. Harvard University: Harvard University press

Darwin, Charles. (1989). The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Vols. 21 and 22

of The Works of Charles Darwin. 29 vols. London: Pickering,.

Descartes, René. (1998). Discourse on the Method for Conducting One’s Reason Well and for

Seeking Truth in the Sciences. Indianapolis: Hackett.

Fouts, Roger, and Stephen Tukel Mills.(1997)Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me

about Who We Are. New York: Morrow.

Gill, Timothy V. (1977)“Conversations with Lana.” Language Learning by a Chimpanzee: The

LANA Project. Ed. Duane M. Rumbaugh. New York: Academic,.225-246.

Gould, Stephen Jay.(1996) Full House: The Spread ofExcellence from Plato to Darwin. New

York: Three Rivers.

Libaw, William H. (2000). How We Got to Be Human: Subjective Minds with Objective Bodies.

Amherst: Prometheus.

Marks, Jonathan. (2002). What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee. Los Angeles: University of

California.

Rachels, James. (1990)Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism. New

York: Oxford UP, 1990.

Wilson, Edward O. (1996)“Biophilia and the Environmental Ethic.”In Search of Nature.

Washington: Island. 165-179.

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