Do Animals Have Feelings?

by anewme 49 Replies latest jw friends

  • anewme

    Oh, Starting Over you hit on a good point!!!!
    Animals for food! OMG! I almost forgot about those poor unfortunates!!!

    Hey, what does anyone know about pigs?

    I ask this because next door the people are raising a pig for slaughter. Day after day, night after night it lives in its outdoor pen all alone. I have visited it three times now since its arrival early last month. It is a pinkish pig. I cant tell if it is a girl or boy pig. I cant get closer than maybe 6 ft. to it due to fencing and wire. There is a definite bad feeling or vibe out there in that end of the yard due to the pigs predicament.(And I am not into vibes and yet I feel it strongly)
    How should I feel about this pig?
    At night I hear it flip its feeding trough metal lid and let it drop..Slam! like a toilet lid.
    Slam! Slam! Through the canyon we hear the pig beast bang his food trough lid in the darkness.

    Does he feel anger? Frustration? Loneliness? Would he kill me?
    There is also a bull and cow next door. The bull looks at me very suspiciously and mooooooos.

    I know nothing about these farm yard animals. What do you think is on their minds??

  • Finally-Free
    What is a continuing source of sadness for me is my knowledge of animals that are used just for food. I know they have feelings too. I can't imagine how someone can work in a slaughter house. I get sick just thinking about it.

    My dad worked in a slaughterhouse when I was a kid, and he took me there to show me around a few times. I'm not sure why he did, because it certainly was sickening. But he told me that the animals apparently could sense what was in store for them and showed a lot of fear or panic.


  • BrendaCloutier

    Oh yes! Love, loyalty, admiration, frustration, dignity, depression, sadness, happiness, playfulness. Some even have a sense of humour!

    I have experienced every one of these from my cats, present and past, and from dogs and birds I've had.

    When taking in a new cat, there is always the fear of a new household, but there is a sense of depression/mourning/loss from their old life and home. I experience this when I lost the brother of my first two cats. Freida mourned for almost 3 months! Taking in Tippet, a mutt, she mourned the loss of her previous family and it's - her - children, for about the same amount of time.

    Max gets really pissed when we leave for even a short over-nighter. He'll start sulking as soon as the suitcases come out. Then when we come home, he stays attached to me for DAYS. He's getting elderly and needy in his old age.

  • BrendaCloutier

    Pigs are extremely intelligent! Sadly that pig sounds both lonely and knowing what's going on. Cows are pretty smart, too.

  • Satanus

    I have collected a few scientific type articles on this subject. The first one is about cows. I don't usually paste a lot of stuff, but for this i will put them here for those that are interested.


    The Secret Life Of Cows

    The Secret Life Of Cows
    By Jonathan Leake

    Once they were a byword for mindless docility. But cows have a complex mental life in which they bear grudges, nurture friendships and become excited by intellectual challenges, researchers have found.

    Cows are capable of strong emotions such as pain, fear and even anxiety about the future. But if farmers provide the right conditions, they can also feel great happiness.

    The findings have emerged from studies of farm animals that have found similar traits in pigs, goats and chickens. They suggest such animals may be so emotionally similar to humans that welfare laws need to be reconsidered.

    The research will be presented to a conference in London next month sponsored by animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming. Christine Nicol, professor of animal welfare at Britain's Bristol University, said even chickens might have to be treated as individuals with needs and problems.

    "Remarkable cognitive abilities and cultural innovations have been revealed," she said. "Our challenge is to teach others that every animal we intend to eat or use is a complex individual, and to adjust our farming culture accordingly."

    Her colleague John Webster added: "People have assumed intelligence is linked to the ability to suffer, and that because animals have smaller brains they suffer less than humans. That is a pathetic piece of logic."

    The Bristol researchers have documented how cows within a herd form friendship groups of between two and four animals with whom they spend most of their time, often grooming and licking each other. They will also dislike other cows, and can bear grudges for months or years.

    Donald Broom, professor of animal welfare at Cambridge University, will tell the conference how cows can become excited by solving intellectual challenges.

    In one study, researchers challenged the animals with a task where they had to find how to open a door to get some food. An electroencephalograph was used to measure their brainwaves. "The brainwaves showed their excitement; their heartbeat went up and some even jumped into the air. We called it their Eureka moment," Professor Broom said.

    The assumption that farm animals cannot suffer from conditions that would be intolerable for humans is partly based on the idea they have no sense of self. Latest research suggests this is untrue. "Sentient animals have the capacity to experience pleasure and are motivated to seek it," Professor Webster said.

    "You only have to watch how cows and lambs both seek and enjoy pleasure when they lie with their heads raised to the sun on a perfect English summer's day. Just like humans."

    Copyright 2005 News Limited.,10117,12390397-13762,00.html


    Man and other animals

    Our fellow creatures have feelings - so we should give them rights too

    Jeremy Rifkin
    Saturday August 16, 2003
    The Guardian
    While much of the talk in big science this past year has centred on new breakthroughs in biotechnology, nanotechnology, computers and more esoteric questions such as the age of our universe, a quieter story has been unfolding behind the scenes in laboratories around the world - one whose impact on human perception and our understanding of the world is likely to be even more profound. And, strangely, the companies sponsoring the research are McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and other fast food purveyors.

    Pressured by animal rights activists and by growing public support for the humane treatment of animals, these companies have financed research into, among other things, the emotional, mental and behavioural states of our fellow creatures. What the researchers are finding is unsettling. It appears that many of our fellow creatures are more like us than we had ever imagined. They feel pain, suffer, experience stress, affection, excitement - and even love.

    Studies on pigs' social behaviour at Purdue University in the US, for example, have found that they crave affection and are easily depressed if isolated or denied playtime with each other. The lack of mental and physical stimuli can result in deterioration of health and increased incidence of diseases. The EU has taken such studies to heart and has outlawed the use of isolating pig stalls by 2012, and mandated their replacement with open-air stalls. In Germany, the government is encouraging pig farmers to give each pig 20 seconds of human contact every day and to provide them with two or three toys to prevent them fighting.

    The pig study only scratches the surface of what is going on in the field of research into animal emotions and cognitive abilities. Researchers were stunned recently by the publication of an article in the prestigious journal Science reporting on the conceptual abilities of New Caledonian crows. In controlled experiments, scientists at Oxford University reported that two birds named Betty and Abel were given a choice between using two tools, one a straight wire, the other a hooked wire, to snag a piece of meat from inside a tube. Both chose the hooked wire. But then, unexpectedly, Abel, the more dominant male, stole Betty's hook, leaving her only with a straight wire. Unphased, Betty used her beak to wedge the wire in a crack and then bent it with her beak to produce a hook, like the one stolen from her. She then snagged the food from inside the tube. Researchers repeated the experiment 10 more times giving her straight wires, and she fashioned a hook out of the wire nine times, demonstrating a sophisticated ability to create tools.

    Then there is the story of Alex the African grey parrot, who was able to master tasks previously thought to be the preserve of human beings. Alex can identify more than 40 objects and seven colours, and can add and separate objects into categories.

    Equally impressive is Koko, a gorilla who was taught sign language, has mastered more than 1,000 signs and understands several thousand English words. On human IQ tests, she scores between 70 and 95, putting her in the slow learner - but not retarded - category.

    Tool-making and developing language skills are just two of the many attributes we thought were exclusive to our species. Self-awareness is another. Philosophers and animal behaviourists have long argued that other animals are not capable of self-awareness because they lack a sense of individualism. Not so, according to a spate of new studies. At the Washington National Zoo, orangutans given mirrors explore parts of their bodies they can't see otherwise, showing a sense of self. An orangutan named Chantek at the Atlanta Zoo used a mirror to groom his teeth and adjust his sunglasses, says his trainer.

    When it comes to the ultimate test of what distinguishes humans from the other creatures, scientists have long believed that mourning for the dead represents the real divide. Other animals have no sense of their mortality and are unable to comprehend the concept of their own death. But animals, it appears, experience grief. Elephants will often stand next to their dead kin for days, in silence, occasionally touching their bodies with their trunks. Kenyan biologist Joyce Poole, who has studied African elephants for 25 years, says that elephant behaviour towards their dead "leaves me with little doubt that they experience deep emotion and have some understanding of death."

    We also know that virtually all animals play, especially when young. Anyone who has ever observed the antics of puppies, kittens or bear cubs cannot help but notice the similarities in the way they play and our own children. Recent studies in the brain chemistry of rats show that when they play, their brains release large amounts of dopamine, a neurochemical associated with pleasure and excitement in human beings.

    Noting the striking similarities in brain anatomy and chemistry of humans and other animals, Steven Siviy, a behavioural scientist at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, asks a question increasingly on the minds of other researchers: "If you believe in evolution by natural selection, how can you believe that feelings suddenly appeared, out of the blue, with human beings?"

    The new findings of researchers are a far cry from the conceptions espoused by orthodox science. Until very recently, scientists were still advancing the idea that most creatures behaved by sheer instinct, and that what appeared to be learned behaviour was merely genetically wired activity. Now we know that geese have to teach their goslings their migration routes. In fact, we are finding out that learning is passed on from parent to offspring far more often than not and that most animals engage in learned experience brought on by continued experimentation and trial-and-error problem-solving.

    So what does all of this portend for the way we treat our fellow creatures? What about the thousands of animals subjected each year to painful laboratory experiments? Or the millions of domestic animals raised under inhumane conditions and destined for slaughter and human consumption. Should we ban leg-hold traps and discourage the sale and purchase of fur coats? And what about killing animals for sport? Fox hunting in England, bull-fighting in Spain, cock-fighting in Mexico? What about entertainment? Should lions be caged in zoos, should elephants be made to perform in circuses?

    These questions are beginning to be raised in courtrooms and in legislation around the world. Today, Harvard and 25 other law schools in the US have introduced law courses on animal rights, and an increasing number of cases representing the rights of animals are entering the court system. Germany recently became the first government in the world to guarantee animal rights in its constitution.

    The human journey is, at its core, about the extension of empathy to broader and more inclusive domains. At first, the empathy extended only to kin and tribe. Eventually it was extended to people of like-minded values - a common religion, nationality or ideology. In the 19th century, the first humane societies were established, extending the empathy to include our fellow creatures. Today, millions of people, under the banner of the animal rights movement, are continuing to deepen and to expand human concern for, and empathy toward, our fellow creatures.

    The current studies into animals' emotions, cognition and behaviour open up a new phase in the human journey, allowing us to both expand and deepen our empathy - this time, to include the broader community of creatures who live alongside us.

    · Jeremy Rifkin is the author of Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture (Plume, 1992), and The Biotech Century (Victor Gollancz, 1998). He is also the president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington DC


    Animals 'Can Think
    About Thought'
    By Tim Radford
    Science Editor
    The Guardian - UK

    Monkeys can manage mathematics. Dolphins can be decisive. But US psychologists have broken new ground in the animal intelligence challenge. They have proved that animals are also smart enough to join the "don't-knows".

    It means that animals, like humans, may be capable not just of thinking, but of thinking about thinking, of knowing that they don't know. Psychologists call this "metacognition", evidence of sophisticated cognitive self-awareness. Ordinary mortals know it as "dithering".

    A team from the University of Buffalo, New York, the University of Montana and Georgia State University report in the December issue of Behavioural and Brain Sciences that they gave humans, bottlenose dolphins and rhesus monkeys nonverbal memory tasks. Some were hard, some easy.

    "The key innovation in this research was to grant animals an 'uncertain' response so they could decline to complete any trials of their choosing," said John David Smith, of the University of Buffalo.

    "Given this option animals might choose to complete trials when they are confident they know, but decline them when they feel something like uncertainty."

    There is no doubt that animals can work things out. Laboratory monkeys have counted up to nine, while a New Caledonian crow at Oxford learned to bend wire into the shape of a hook to fish titbits from a bucket. These studies were evidence of thought, but not of thinking about thought.

    But the evidence from the latest experiment showed that monkeys and dolphins, at least, could opt for the "uncertain" response, in a manner essentially identical to a human don't-know.

    Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003,11917,1098467,00.html


    Are Animals More Like Us Than We Dream? Scientists Discovering Culture Not Unique To Humans

    Are Animals More Like
    Us Than We Dream?
    Scientists Discovering Culture Not Unique To Humans
    By Peter Christie
    The Globe and Mail

    It's a little after lunchtime, and Bennett (Jeff) Galef Jr. and I are watching daytime, soap-opera-style television. The plot line is typical fare -- a happy couple's love is rent asunder when she spurns him for someone new.

    Professor Galef, a McMaster University psychologist, has work he probably should be doing -- scientific manuscripts to review, papers to write, the many duties of an academic elder statesman.

    But what's unusual is not that this 63-year-old scientist and high-art aficionado would waste his time on this kind of television, in a windowless basement room four floors below his university office in Hamilton. It is that the actors in this take on Desperate Housewives are all birds -- gawky, dull-brown Japanese quail, to be exact.

    "Any time, day or night, you put mature adults together... they're ready to perform," Prof. Galef told me.

    As actors go, they're pretty reliable.

    For the quail, of course, it's not acting. Their screen appearances -- carefully videotaped ahead of time in specially constructed cages in Prof. Galef's basement laboratory -- are slices of real life that show something surprising about how female quail choose their mates: They copy each other's choices.

    When choosing between two males confined to opposite ends of her cage, the quail in this tape -- call her Doris -- repeatedly sidles up to Sid, looking longingly into his eyes. Then, in a heart-breaking instant, it is over: Doris spots another female that has been placed in the compartment of the male she did not choose. To her, the male in the company of the other female suddenly seems sexier. She marches over. Sid is history.

    Simply put, Prof. Galef's quail won't follow their hearts when they can follow other quail. In a hardwired world where most animals appear genetically programmed to choose the best, brightest or strongest mates, these quail seem different: They prefer lessons of love to be passed to them not by their DNA but by their peers. They possess the trick of learning preferences and other behaviours from one another.

    This may seem like an awfully trivial matter to divert an emeritus professor of psychology, but it is the heart of a passionate international dispute about whether animals have culture.

    "As an issue, it has just gone berserk," Prof. Galef says. "People for so long have been concerned with the animal and its physical environment. Now, the relationship between an animal's behaviour and its social environment has come very much to the fore."

    Culture is widely considered to be exclusively human. Although we share 95 per cent of our DNA with apes, non-genetic culture is touted as the likely engine for our ride out of the jungle. It is said to have freed people from their underlying biology, leading to the myriad choices that make us human -- selections of mates and careers, ethics and religions, clothes, music or pop-idol heartthrobs.

    Animals can learn clever tricks, but most scientists assume the things animals do to survive or mate are strictly coded for in their genes; the careful scripting helps animals avoid mistakes that could cost them their future. Now, the behaviour of creatures such as Prof. Galef's quail has some scientists rethinking this view.

    Animals that look to other animals when making important choices, such as selecting a mate, are not following the usual dictates of biology. Instead, they may be exhibiting something akin to culture. And if animals have culture, then a kind of consciousness might not be far behind; if animals have culture, the gulf between us and them might be much smaller than we long presumed.

    "It is seen as a sort of steppingstone to humanness," explains Kevin Laland, a psychologist at the Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

    Jeff Galef is a slight, puckishly energetic scientist with a grey goatee and bitten-down nails. Although he doesn't look it, he is retired and putting the finishing touches on the more than 35 years he has spent studying how animals learn from their fellow animals.

    In the 1970s, Prof. Galef demonstrated that rats recognize food and avoid poisons by paying attention to chemical cues in the breath of their cage mates, or in the milk of their mothers. It was a breakthrough, because it helped to show that animals could learn not only by genetic predisposition and from individual experience, but at least in some sense from the experiences of others.

    Since then, he has consolidated his position on the frontier of science, conducting animal social-learning studies on everything from Mongolian gerbils to vampire bats. With Cecilia Heyes, he co-edited one of the most widely cited texts on the subject, Social Learning in Animals: The Roots of Culture.

    "Jeff is kind of like the father figure to the field," Prof. Laland says. "He made people think of this as an important topic, and he introduced experimental rigour into a field which had previously been quite wishy-washy."

    It isn't what Prof. Galef first set out to do. Born and raised in Manhattan, he is the son of a frustrated sculptor who was forced to decline a promising artistic career to work in the family import-export business, then died in a plane crash when his son was 17. Affected by his father's true passion, the future Prof. Galef began studying to be a forensic art historian, the kind of high-culture gumshoe who authenticates artworks and uncovers forgeries. Unfortunately, he found he hated chemistry, so he changed course. He went into experimental psychology and then, during graduate school, switched again, to evolutionary psychology.

    After his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, he accepted a position at McMaster in 1968. But he never set aside his fondness for human culture.

    "Art has always been a big part of my life," says Prof. Galef, who is a member of the board of directors for the McMaster Art Gallery and himself a collector of European paintings. "I figure I've seen more of the world than Captain Cook. I've heard more music than Louis XIV, who devoted a third of the GNP of France to it. I've seen more art than the Medicis. It's a wonderful time to be alive."

    Animal culture was a contentious idea long before Prof. Galef arrived on the scene. The early grist for the debate emerged in the 1950s.

    Small, chickadee-like birds called blue tits were irking British homemakers by, apparently, learning from one another how to peck through the foil bottle caps on door-stoop-delivered milk bottles and skim off the cream. Two biologists saw a pattern in the complaints and traced the origin of the bottle-opening habit to one place, a village in Southampton.

    Then, primatologists studying a troupe of macaque monkeys on the Japanese island of Koshima reported a peculiar food-washing habit that was spreading among their study population.

    For years, locals had been feeding the monkeys by scattering sweet potatoes on the beach. One day, a crafty, two-year-old female named Imo began wading into the sea and rinsing the sand from her potatoes. Within nine years, all the monkeys were washing their food. They still do, to this day.

    Soon, evidence of culture in animals was being reported all over the place. Birds of the same species were found singing in local dialects. Minnows and guppies were discovered following each other to find the best escape routes or the fastest ways to a meal.

    In New Zealand, psychologists Gain Hunt and Russell Gray found that crows on the remote Pacific islands of New Caledonia seemed to learn tool-making skills from other crows: They could snip special shapes out of durable leaves to use for hunting insects, and copy the latest, most effective leaf-cut designs from one another.

    In two landmark papers, in the prestigious journals Nature and Science, a group of researchers in Africa and another in Borneo announced that chimpanzees and orangutans had complex cultures, sharing a vast array of habits and traditions, from the crafting of dolls out of bundles of leaves to making thin twig "fishing rods" to scoop ants out of holes, as well as a variety of sex tricks.

    "It starts to add up to a culture story," says Carel van Schaik, the University of Indiana anthropologist who headed the orangutan work.

    The journal articles sparked news stories and editorials in both The New York Times and The Times of London, warning that the distinction between apes and people was becoming perhaps uncomfortably fuzzy.

    Closer to home, Canadian whale biologist Hal Whitehead published his arguments that whales and dolphins also have cultures that seem almost human. Many whale social groups share everything from a language of whistles and clicks to complex hunting skills. For instance, culture could explain how humpback whales learn to use tail slaps and blow bubble-ring "nets" to trap food, or how Argentine killer whales teach their young to snatch seals from shoreline seal colonies by violently beaching themselves.

    "I think the mounting evidence has weakened the Cartesian divide between human culture and animal culture in so many ways," Prof. Whitehead says from his Dalhousie University office. "People who look at these barriers between us and non-human animals are finding they don't hold up."

    >From the point of view of evolutionary biology, few of these behaviours make obvious sense.

    Only the genes that help animals survive and mate are supposed to win in the great Darwinian lottery. Genes for behaviour are no exception. Culture, on the other hand, seems so genetically superfluous. So human.

    Over the past century, arguments have waxed and waned about whether human behaviour is more influenced by a person's genes (nature) or by experience (nurture). >From the beginning of the debate, culture figured prominently. Culture could compel people to do things no self-respecting gene would recommend -- things such as taking an oath of celibacy to join the priesthood.

    Lately, the human nature-nurture dispute has cooled considerably. Both sides now frequently agree to meet in the middle -- researchers acknowledge that genetic makeup is crucial, but experience acts to switch on or off many of the genes that shape behaviour.

    On the subject of animals, however, the debate is really just beginning. A growing group of scientists now believes that the existence of culture in animals may change the way we think of evolution itself.

    Culture may affect the way animals act in surprising and unanticipated ways. Like the celibate priests, animals may be compelled by culture to do things contrary to their nature, things that disobey their genetic instructions. It's behaviour that can't be predicted by asking -- as most biologists currently do -- whether an activity helps animals make their way in the world.

    Culture can affect where animals choose to live or with whom they choose to mate -- decisions that, in turn, direct the course of evolution for the underlying genes.

    Evolutionary biologists who think only in terms of the survival and inheritance of DNA molecules may be missing a whole other force of change.

    "The role of these things has been under-explored," says Lee Dugatkin, a professor of biology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky who is the author of The Imitation Factor: Evolution Beyond the Gene.

    "There are two concurrent forces going on here. There's genetic evolution and, in addition to that, there are aspects of cultural evolution that go above and beyond what can be explained through the standard evolutionary approach."

    Prof. Laland explains, "What starts to count is history, what individuals around you are doing. Culture and cultural evolution are a separate domain from genetic evolution. Separate, but not separate in that they are not completely independent, and the processes interact. When cultural traits spread through a population, they frequently modify the selection pressures acting back on the genes."

    It's complicated, but it helps to explain the groundbreaking thinking of Profs. Laland and Dugatkin and other beneficiaries of Prof. Galef's social-learning work.

    Both Prof. Laland and Prof. Dugatkin have shown experimentally that tiny aquarium guppies not only learn socially, but that they can be "tricked by culture" to do things their genes would warn against doing, such as taking the long route instead of a short one to food or choosing a substandard mate. Culturally learned habits, therefore, can actually set guppies back, temporarily, in the genetic evolutionary race.

    It is this kind of thinking that some believe is poised to change the study of evolutionary biology in important ways. "I would love to believe it is the next big thing," Prof. Laland says. "It's certainly a big thing, whether or not it's the big thing."

    And yet, the putative father of animal social-learning science, Prof. Galef himself, isn't buying it. He seems almost gleeful at the seeming paradox.

    "Culture in animals? Cumulative culture? No," he says. "I certainly haven't seen any evidence for it."

    A lot of scientists treat the word culture too glibly, he says. Sure, social learning -- of the kind Prof. Galef has demonstrated in rats, quail and other creatures -- can bring about behavioural "traditions" in animals.

    But culture, human-like culture, is different. While animals may learn from other animals, he says, only humans actively teach one another. Some animals may be capable of building a better mousetrap, but humans are the only species that builds it using the accumulated technology of previous mousetrap designs. More often than not, Prof. Galef says, shared behaviours that researchers say shows culture in animals could be explained in other ways. Better evidence is needed, he says.

    "I just have difficulty believing that it's going to turn out that there really is no meaningful distinction between the guys that built the space shuttle and the chimps who managed to crack nuts with a rock. It's not just a quantitative difference; it's just different. We are doing something that the damn chimps just cannot do."

    What he describes as caution, however, other scientists see as unwarranted rebuke, and it's caused a reaction. Not long ago, Prof. Galef was notably excluded from the invitation list of a major international conference on mammalian social learning in London.

    "I thought it was quite extraordinary," Prof. Laland says. "He would have been the first name down on virtually everybody's list. But I think if you're going to invite Jeff along, then you know there's going to be a certain tone to the meeting.

    "There are those who feel that sometimes he is so critical that it puts people off from joining the field. I feel that was the concern of the organizers of that meeting. I think they were wrong to draw that conclusion."

    Primatologists, such as those who put together the London conference, are the most frequently rankled by Prof. Galef's ready skepticism, but so is Dalhousie's Prof. Whitehead. "I think it's hurtful," he says. "There is an attitude out there that if you cannot do the experimental approach, then the science isn't worth doing. I utterly reject that. Because then you are throwing away a lot of the most interesting things in nature."

    Back in Prof. Galef's office, four floors above his small subterranean lab, the reigning champion and principal naysayer of animal social learning is rocking back in his chair. Around him, crammed bookshelves hold volumes of social-learning texts and scores of biographies of Charles Darwin. Darwin, the architect of the theory of evolution by natural selection, is Prof. Galef's hero.

    Large stacks of articles and papers are neatly arranged on the filing cabinet and on a crowded corner of the desk. The shelves are adorned with his wildlife photographs along with a few pictures of his wife, Mertice Clark, an adjunct professor in the department, with whom Prof Galef has often collaborated.

    Prof. Galef shrugs, and smiles. He is amused that his doubts about animal culture have caused such a stir. The mischief is mostly unintentional, he says.

    He says the reason for his skepticism is not a belief in the primacy of the human culture he so enjoys, nor even his insistence that genes will always have the last word. The reason is simply his service to good science.

    The claim that animals have culture is not to be made lightly. It is a notion in need of scientific evidence that is as compelling and solid as the idea itself is profound. That evidence is still missing, he says.

    "Of course, I fully expect to be proved wrong," he adds, drawing himself up to his desk. "The point is to convince people that you need more. That's hard. And to do it while everybody is deciding, 'Oh God, there's that guy, make him go away,' that's tougher still.

    "I want us to know things, the way we know hydrogen and oxygen make water. If this is ever going to be a real science, what we mean by knowing things has to be much more solid than it is today. . . . If the intellectual pressure is there, then the means for answering these questions may be found."

    Meanwhile, behind the scenes of Prof. Galef's quail-TV drama, the quietly clucking birds have no idea that their romantic perturbations have stirred a worldwide debate that divides contemporary biologists.

    Indeed, within a very few minutes, the whole feathery affair of Doris and Sid seems a distant memory to these pea-brained birds. She, of course, has moved on to better things, remaking her image of the model mate. He, meanwhile, has mended his broken heart in a moment, consoled by the notion that there are plenty of quail in the coop.

    The science of animal behaviour may have been unsettled by their little melodrama, but for the quail, it's nothing to get ruffled about.

    - Peter Christie is a science writer and editor living in Kingston.

    © Copyright 2005 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.


    Old MacDonald's Sentient Farm Studies Show Farmyard Animals Have Range Of Emotions And Sharp Intelligence

    Old MacDonald's
    Sentient Farm
    Studies Show Farmyard Animals Have Range Of
    Emotions And Sharp Intelligence
    By Mark Townsend
    Environment Correspondent
    The Observer - UK

    Cursed with a maddening cluck and a comic strut that would put John Cleese to shame, the chicken, headless or not, is thought by many to be one of the world's daftest animals. Yet new research reveals they are in fact rather clever.

    Evidence that the humble hen can master complex tricks that would make most dog owners proud is among a wealth of research to be unveiled at the largest conference ever staged to investigate animal sentience.

    The findings, seen by The Observer, offer compelling evidence that creatures caricatured as mindlessly dumb can feel emotions usually associated with humans, such as jealousy, love and loss. Some are crafty enough to hatch machiavellian plots worthy of those who stalk the corridors of Whitehall.

    Sheep, ridiculed for a non-questioning herd mentality, possess a sharp sense of individuality and can recognise the faces of at least 10 people and 50 other sheep for at least two years. Scientists at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge also discovered that sheep react to facial expressions and, like humans, prefer a smile to a grimace.

    Further studies which reinforce the notion that sheep are more like us than previously believed involved tests showing they mourn absent individuals. Scientists claim such findings are increasingly challenging the belief that farmyard animals have no 'sense of self', a notion that could have profound implications for the way Britain's creatures are farmed.

    Pigs were similarly found to have a cerebral capacity beyond the popular preconception of a farm animal. Researchers at Bristol University found that pigs are masters of deceit, deliberately misleading other pigs if it would result in more food for themselves.

    Chickens command an extraordinary degree of self-control over food. They are willing to delay gratification if they think a larger portion will be offered in due course.

    Other research that threatens the longevity of the phrase 'headless chicken' found that the creatures boast a greater sense of spatial awareness than young children. In tests, chickens could learn tricks such as opening doors and navigating mazes with a speed usually the preserve of dogs and horses. These findings suggest that the character of Ginger, the sharp-witted chicken who leads her colleagues to escape from a farm in the 2000 film Chicken Run, may not be as ironic as its makers intended.

    The results that may most perturb animal welfare groups are those that suggest chickens can feel pain. Tests found that those known to be experiencing some form of discomfort or lameness chose food laced with morphine when given the choice. By contrast, chickens who were fully fit chose feed that was not spiked with an analgesic.

    Another creature similarly viewed by modern society as little more than a benign food source - the cow - is also shown to be an astute animal capable of solving riddles with an intellect more traditionally associated with an ape. Studies at Oxford University found that Betty, a Caledonian heifer, instinctively bent a piece of wire, using a gap in her food tray to create a hook that allowed her to scrape food from the bottom of a jar.

    Scores of scientists and government delegates from 43 countries will attend the London conference in 10 days' time to discuss whether society's attitude to animals needs re-examining. They will also hear how wood mice build their own signposts, using sticks and stones to mark sites where food is abundant or marking short-cuts back to their burrow.

    The reputation of parrots as purveyors of a broad vocabulary is also reinforced with one study documenting how a grey parrot mastered 1,000 words and learnt to communicate in a manner that would shame some British adults. Parrots have an intellect comparable to a five-year-old human, and the conference will hear how potential parrot owners must weigh up buying one as if they were adopting a 'small child'.

    The conference comes at a time when the food industry is being forced to address mounting consumer concern over the structure of Britain's food industry and factory farming.

    Among those speaking are officials from McDonald's and the World Bank's private sector arm, whose responsibilities include livestock investment. Leading theologians will also argue that Christian and Islamic faiths need to update their attitudes towards animals by bestowing an intrinsic value similar to that given to people.

    Joyce D'Silva, chief executive of animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming Trust, which is organising the two-day summit, said: 'Government and business will have to address animal sentience because consumer concern about the treatment of animals will increasingly influence spending patterns in the coming decades.'

    Tomorrow a cross-party parliamentary group on animal welfare will unveil its report into the use of animals in the development of vaccines for humans. The report, which will reopen the debate on the worth of vivisection, calls for the urgent development of new ways of testing vaccines without using animals. Currently 1.5 million animals are used in the European Union each year in the development of vaccines.

    Not just parrot fashion ...

    Fish are renowned for having a three-second memory; however, evidence suggests they can be highly manipulative and cultured.

    Parrots, when shown two different objects, can use language to describe differences in their colour, shape and texture.

    Sheep can carry the mental image of another sheep or person for two years.

    Chickens feel intention and expectation and can tell people apart.

    Pigs may use a sophisticated form of consciousness to deceive other animals for greater personal reward.

    Elephants make graves by breaking branches to cover their dead colleagues. They have a large hippocampus, the part of the brain that stores mental maps.

    Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005,6903,1431443,00.html


    Animals Enjoy A Good Laugh, Too, Say Scientists

    Animals Enjoy A Good
    Laugh, Too, Say Scientists
    By Peter Gorner
    Chicago Tribune Science Reporter

    Tickling rats to make them chirp with joy may seem frivolous as a scientific pursuit, yet understanding laughter in animals may lead to revolutionary treatments for emotional illness, researchers suggest.

    Joy and laughter, they say, are proving not to be uniquely human traits.

    Roughhousing chimpanzees emit characteristic pants of excitement, their version of "ha-ha-ha" limited only by their anatomy and lack of breath control, researchers contend.

    Dogs have their own sound to spur other dogs to play, and recordings of the sound can dramatically reduce stress levels in shelters and kennels, according to the scientist who discovered it.

    Even laboratory rats have been shown to chirp delightedly above the range of human hearing when wrestling with each other or being tickled by a keeper--the same vocalizations they make before receiving morphine or having sex.

    Studying sounds of joy may help us understand the evolution of human emotions and the brain chemistry underlying such emotional problems as autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders, said Jaak Panksepp, a pioneering neuroscientist who discovered rat laughter.

    Panksepp, of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, sums up the latest studies in this week's edition of the journal Science in hopes of alerting colleagues to results that he terms "spectacular." The research suggests that studying animal emotions, once a scientific taboo, seems to be moving rapidly into the mainstream.

    "It's very, very difficult to find skeptics these days. The study of animal emotions has really matured.

    Things have changed completely from as recently as five years ago," said Mark Bekoff, an expert in canine play behavior and professor of biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

    Biologists suggest that nature apparently considers sounds of joy important enough to have conserved them during the evolutionary process.

    "Neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain," Panksepp said, "and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along."

    Research in this area "is just the beginning wave of the future," said comparative ethologist Gordon Burghardt, of the University of Tennessee, who studies the evolution of play. "It will allow us to bridge the gap with other species."

    New investigative techniques often rely on super high-tech scanning wizardry, but the most important tool for scientists in this field is much more simple.

    "Tickles are the key," Panksepp said. "They open up a previously hidden world."

    Panksepp had studied play vocalizations in animals for years before it occurred to him that they might be an ancestral form of laughter.

    "Then I went to the lab and tickled some rats. Tickled them gently around the nape of their necks. Wow!"

    The tickling made the rats chirp happily--"as long as the animal's friendly toward you," he said. "If not, you won't get a single chirp, just like a child that might be suspicious of an adult."

    Rats that were repeatedly tickled became socially bonded to the researchers and would seek out tickles. The researchers also found that rats would rather spend time with animals that chirp a lot than with those that don't.

    During human laughter, the dopamine reward circuits in the brain light up. When researchers neurochemically tickled those same areas in rat brains, the rats chirped.

    Rat humor remains to be investigated, but if it exists, a prime component will be slapstick, Panksepp speculated. "Young rats, in particular, have a marvelous sense of fun."

    Panksepp said that laughter, at least in response to a direct physical stimulus such as tickling, may be a common trait shared by all mammals.

    Psychologist and neuroscientist Robert Provine, author of "Laughter: A Scientific Investigation," tickled and played with chimpanzees at the Yerkes Regional Primate Center in Atlanta while researching the origins of the human laugh.

    Laughter in chimps, our closest genetic relatives, is associated with rough-and-tumble play and tickling, Provine found. That came as no surprise.

    "It's like the behavior of young children," said Provine, of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. "A tickle and laughter are the first means of communication between a mother and her baby, so laughter appears by about four months after birth."

    The importance of such an early behavior is apparent.

    "We're talking about a life-and-death deal here--the bonding and survival of babies," Provine said.

    When chimps laugh, they make unique panting sounds, ranging from barely audible to hard grunting, with each inward and outward breath.

    "We humans laugh on outward breaths. When we say `ha-ha-ha,' we're chopping an outward breath," Provine said. "Chimps can't do that. They make one sound per inward and outward breath. They don't have the breath control to ... make the traditional human laugh."

    The breakthrough in dog laughter was accomplished by University of Nevada, Reno, researcher Patricia Simonet while working with undergraduates at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe.

    With extensive chimp research behind her, Simonet was open to the idea of animal emotions, but the laughing sound she discovered in dogs was unexpected: a "breathy, pronounced, forced exhalation" that sounds to the untrained ear like a normal dog pant.

    But a spectrograph showed a burst of frequencies, some beyond human hearing. A plain pant is simpler, limited to just a few frequencies.

    Hearing a tape of the dog laugh made single animals take up toys and play by themselves, Simonet said. It never initiated aggressive responses.

    "If you want to invite your dog to play using the dog laugh, say `hee, hee, hee' without pronouncing the `ee,'" Simonet said. "Force out the air in a burst, as if you're receiving the Heimlich maneuver."

    When she played a recording of a laughing dog at an animal shelter, Simonet found that even 8-week-old puppies reacted by starting to play, something they hadn't done when exposed to other dog sounds.

    "Some sounds, like growls, confused the puppies. But the dog laugh caused sheer joy and brought down the stress levels in the shelter immediately."

    There you go. Animals are people, but they are just a lot more animal and less people than us, well most of us anyway.


  • startingover


    Just hearing about the pig makes me ill. Like FF said, I'm sure they can figure out what's going on. The only consolation I have, is that with animals when it comes down to surviving they will do anything, like even eating their buddy that got killed on the road. But if we as humans got put into that situation, what would we do. I think basically we are all just animals trying to survive.

    The big question for me, considering how I feel about animals, is how I can continue to eat meat. I never forget the story about Linda McCartney eating a lamb dinner and looking out the window at the lambs out in the pasture and becoming a vegetarian as a result. I really admire her for that.

  • anewme

    I would love to comfort the pig, make its time more bearable somehow. But something prevents me from visiting him. (Sanity?)(Not my pig?)

    Anyway, since his arrival I have not been able to eat meat. Its true! I posted this on another thread.
    I'm sure the sickening feeling will eventually wear off, but so far it hasnt.
    The neighbors (I do not know them, as I have been warned by my landlord NOT TO KNOW THEM) are slaughtering and eating their animals. They raised a pig last year and one night a lot of trucks showed up and men got out and music was played and by the light of a flickering fire my husband and I snuck up to see the pig turning on the skewer.

    Have I shared that I live in the mountains? ok so I have. Anyway, every morning a flock of at least 50 brown turkeys like nomads walk through the property across the front lawn and back down to the creek.

    I had a pet turkey once....they're different boy.

    I had a raven too.

    I have had very close friendships with a lot of different creatures.
    I cant help but be in awe of this life and its diversity.

  • Legolas

    Yes they do!

  • startingover


    Thanks for posting that, I guess. To be honest I couldn't read the whole thing, it just makes me way too sad. I will read it later, but from what I read it confirms what I know to be true.

    I have had cockatoos for almost 25 years, and have raised them from day 1, watching them come out of the egg. I now longer allow my pair to make babies as there has developed a huge problem with unwanted parrots. In case anyone is interested you can read about it here:

    People buy these birds because they are unbelievably sweet, but with handfeds that changes when they reach maturity and most people are not able to handle the noise and plucking and all the other negative things that go with it. So these birds end up living their lives in a small cage in a dark room to keep them from screaming. So here we have these beautiful intelligent creatures that people are willing to pay several thousand dollars for, and they end up in a dark room plucking themselves. But what about all the other unfortunate animals that we use for food. I am convinced they have all the feelings I am aware that my birds have because I have lived with them. It's all so sickening to me.

    Interestingly, this is one of the things that has turned me totally off to there being a god. It is so obvious what aniamls have to do to survive, and this has been going on from the beginning. The idea of their being a creator that started all this is now disgusting to me, especially when he required the kiiling of animals and then enjoyed the odor of their burning flesh. And nowhere in the bible is there any allowance for animals to do anything but die.

  • anewme

    I have been bugging my husband for some time to allow me to have some chickens up here in the mountains. Its lonely up here all by myself all day sometimes.
    A few little hens would keep me company outside!
    There is just something cheery and heartwarming about a few little hens scratching and humming to themselves out in the yard on a grey overcast day like today!

    I pass by the neighbors and many of them have chickens and my heart yearns to have my own again.

    Maryhen, Dizzy, Roosty, Miss McGillicutty, Red, they were all my little buddies years ago.
    All are buried in my old rose garden in my ex's backyard.

    Chickens can make swell pets.

    I posted a thread a while back about humane treatment of laying hens.
    Our local paper ran an article about the local rancher who got in trouble for stacking his hens in cramped quarters. People dont like to buy eggs from cruel ranchers and when they find out about it business suffers.

    Another poster ran a thread about Asian fishermen who use large live dogs for bait.
    Some pictures you can never forget.

    This world will benefit from continued research and education about animals as well as our fellow humans.
    Laws must be made to protect them.

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