science and unexplained real-life accounts wrapped in eloquent honesty...a read you don't want to miss.
Overview: This Ted Talk is an just a short snippet of how wonderful the book is. Although this is a large 400+ page book that took me 4 weeks to finish, I absolutely LOVED it. I devoured each page and used all the ink in my highlighter to mark my favorite parts. It's exactly what I would expect: captivating to read, covers what we know in science (yet recognizes that there is still a lot we don't know), and includes fascinating anecdotal accounts. If you love all kinds of animals, (yes, cats do get a few mentions in this book!) and desire to learn about their brains, intelligence and so much more...read this book (you can buy at link at bottom of post).
It will leave you motivated and asking yourself - how can I help?
Details: Carl Safina writes not only from his professional experience, but also from his personal experience and those of others. He goes into great detail about the plight of the African elephants, Yellowstone wolves and Orcas (aka Killer Whales). All whilst weaving an intricate image of our current scientific understanding of animal intelligence and emotions, and discovering what is beyond our current quantitative knowledge.
This book contains several captivating, and seemingly unexplained, accounts of Orca and dolphin kindness, teamwork and senses beyond current human understanding. The question behind each is, what is their motivation? If humans are the "smartest species" then why haven't we figured this out yet?
Carl touches on the definitions of consciousness (the thing that feels like something), sentience (the ability to feel sensations), cognition (the capacity to perceive and acquire knowledge and understanding) and thought (the process of considering something that's been perceived). I think it's about time (and I believe the author agrees with me) that we recognize all of the varying levels of the above in all animals, and how that humans may not be at the "top of the chain" on each of the scales we create.
Here are my most interesting takeaways...
Takeaway #1: Octopi, gulls, herons, jays, sea otters, dolphins, elephants, chimpanzees, orangutans, monkeys, wrasse (fish), wasps, and various ants use tools (and this list grows by the day as researchers discover more).
Takeaway #2: Anthropocentrism = the sense that everything revolves around us.
Takeaway #3: "Rage gets produced in the same parts of the brains of a cat and a human."
Takeaway #3: Teaching requires an individual to take time away from its own agenda to demonstrate and instruct a new skill to the student, and the student then must learn the skill. Teachers include cheetahs and house cats, river otters, meerkats, several birds, etc.
Takeaway #4: Theory of Mind definitions seem to be a hot topic among academics, and oddly controversial. (My opinion of why is because "proving theory of mind" means the human race must face how we treat our animals with more...*gasp*...empathy)
- Elephants almost always react to a dead elephant's (and sometimes human's) remains.
- Elephants may use the aid of a mediator to reconcile social problems with other elephants.
- Elephant vocal communication is partially sent through the ground and received through the feet of other elephants.
Takeaway #6: Wolves
- "Wolves orient and defer to their elders the way dogs do to their human keepers. Maturing wolves, though, become captains of their own lives. Dogs remain perpetually dependent on and submissive to humans.'
- "Outside of Yellowstone, people account for about 80 percent of wolf deaths."
Takeaway #7: Birds
- Crows figure out how to use tools to solve an 8-step puzzle to gain access to food.
- The size of the forebrain in ravens and parrots, is relatively larger than found in other birds, which is where thinking is processed.
- Many have regional dialects.
- Ravens, crows, and parrots have brain-size-to-body-mass ratio that is similar to a chimpanzee.
Takeaway#8: Sea Creatures
- "Bottlenose dolphins engage in more same-sexual behavior than any other known creature."
- The Orca social structure is more complex and peaceful than chimpanzee social structure.
- Between 1 month to 2 years of age, several species of dolphins develop their own distinctive "signature whistle" as a name for themselves.
Buy the book by clicking the photo link below. Check out Carl Safina's organization and TV show.