Understanding Animals' Intelligence and Capabilities

Topics: Guinea pig, Animal cognition, Charles Darwin Pages: 6 (2023 words) Published: March 7, 2006
Animals have such an important role in the world; without animals humans would not be able to survive. If one type of species becomes extinct, it would affect one link in the food chain. Humans underestimate animal intelligence, their capabilities, and their importance. Evolution has changed how humans and animals interact with each other.

Charles Darwin brought the idea of evolution to the world and the theory survival of the fittest, and recognized animal consciousness (Page, 9). He looked at some positions as the scientist that "lowered" mankind, and put mankind at the level of animals, but is judged by the possibility of raising the importance of animals. Darwin had motives for defending animal consciousness, when put in certain situations human characteristics are compared to that of animals (Page, 11). In Origin of Species, Darwin wrote that "the various and faculties, such as love, memory, attention and curiosity, imitation, reason, etc which man boasts, maybe found in the lower animals" (Page, 17). Darwin's other theory, survival of the fittest states the strongest animals survive and the weak ones will die or become extinct (Page, 18). Animals express many characteristics and abilities that humans have like behavior, strategic thinking and learning, and emotions (Page, 21).

Survival is important to animals just like humans. They use many different techniques to survive such as when an otter finds a mussel to eat, he floats on his back in the water while cracking the mussel apart to eat (Scott 161). Woodpeckers climb up and down trees looking for food, and when it comes to the hole where insects may be, they peck at it until they can get to the insect and eat it (Scott 164). Spiders design many different webs, varying in size and shape, to catch their prey and squirrels hide their nuts in the fall for food in the winter(Scott 165). These different types of eating habits are strategies for their survival. Each of these animals has used trial and error to their advantage to catch their prey. When the otter brings up a mussel it will usually bring up a flat rock to break the mussel on. The otter lays the rock on her stomach while holding the mussel with both hands and smashing the mussel hard on the rock. The otter also uses this technique for lobsters and clams. A spider builds an elastic web and makes the center a cone shape. When an insect flies near the web the spider releases the web which allows the web to spring or bounce to catch the insect (Scott 166). When a woodpecker comes upon a hole that may contain insects, it looks for a little twig or cactus spine to poke into the crack. They move the twig around until they pull the insect out. Once they retrieve the insects or larvae, they drop the twig almost immediately and devour it (Scott 167). These techniques are very important to the survival of animals.

Sometimes animals and humans alike have to resort to violence in order to survive. Animals have to eat other animals such as a frog eats an insect then a fish eats the frog then a human eats the fish. This is called the food chain and this is how all animals survive. Humans must resort to violence as well. We need to kill animals to survive. It all goes back to Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest. The strong animals kill the weak ones and eat them in order to survive.

Animals have to protect their young to prevent their species from becoming extinct. Animals have to be aggressive towards predators to keep their offspring alive. When a mountain lion tries attempts to attack a bear cub the parent attacks the mountain lion. Another example is when a killer whale tries to kill a great white shark's baby (Scott 173). Humans are the same way, when another human comes in their house and tries to kill their children they fight back. Protection of the young is necessary to survival.

Many animals are very territorial in many different ways. Dogs and cats show there territory by urinating in...

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French, Jeffrey. "Animal Behavior: Mechanism, Ecology, Evolution." Quarterly Review of Biology (June 1998) University of Delaware Expanded Academics ASAP Plus. 23 November, 2005.
Hauser, Marc. Wild Minds. New York: Henry Holt and Company. 2000.
McMillan, Franklin, and Kathryn Lance. Unlocking the Animal Mind. United States: Holtzbrinck Publishers. 2004
Muir, Hazel, and Betsy Mason. "Secret Lives of Dogs." New Science 175 (3 August 2002): 20. University of Delaware Expanded Academic ASAP Plus. 23 November 2005.
Page, George. Inside the Animal Mind. New York: Doubleday. 1999.
Scott, John. Animal Behavior. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1972.
Seve, Karen. "Animal Intelligence. How brainy are they?" Marc Hauser 's Primate Cognitive Neuroscience. 26 November 2001. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1590/is_6_58/ai_80748082
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