The Human Side of Animals
by Vance Packard

An account of animal intelligence written for the general public and illustrated with many photographs.

In nature the wild horse was a hunted animal rather than a hunting animal, such as the dog and cat were. This distinction helps account not only for the horse's nature but for the peculiar arrangement of its eyes. The dog and cat have binocular vision such as we have. Their eyes are set in front of the head and can be readily brought to bear jointly on a single object, thus giving precision of vision. In contrast, the horse's eyes (like those of another hunted animal, the deer) are on the sides of its head. This gives a wider field of vision for detecting enemies, but there is less precision. Usually it sees an object with only one eye. p. 79

A horse's wide and unreliable vision combined with its high-strung temperament compels it to wear those ridiculous blinders. Otherwise its mind would wander hopelessly from its work. p. 80

Wild animals almost uniformly do better on laboratory problems than tame animals. p. 91

Sympathy, as Romanes observed, is "more strongly marked in monkeys than in any other animal, not even excepting the dog." A sick monkey is waited upon with great anxiety and tenderness by its friends, who will even sacrifice their favorite dainties in order to offer them to their sick comrade. p. 101

The close physiological similarity of apes to Man is indicated by the fact that the ape is the only creature in the entire animal kingdom capable of catching the common cold. A chimp with a head cold looks just as miserable as a wheezy human. p. 104

Professor Harlow has concluded that thinking ability is to a large extent the result of training, and human beings eventually outdistance apes because they get much more training and experience in meeting problems before they mature. p. 112

... birds ... would build a perfect nest even though the bird and its ancestors had been reared in isolation from nesting materials. There, we had instinct at work. With the chimps nest-building has to be learned by each individual chimp from its elders. The more an animal has to learn in fending for itself, the more likely it is the animal will possess a high order of intelligence. Man, for example, has to learn practically everything he does. Newborn babies are helpless. p. 115

Chimpanzees can laugh in genuinely human fashion and can even cry, but apparently cannot shed tears. They are also great ones for kissing and caressing and can become almost maudlin in their sympathy. p. 116

After spending many decades studying apes, the famed Dr. Yerkes concluded that the gorilla is ahead of the chimp in total psychological resemblances to Man, despite the fact that the chimp leads in intelligence tests. p. 127

The natives believe that this snoring must give some measure of protection to the sleeping gorilla, as nothing would attack an animal that made noises like that. p. 130-131

Mother love in all mammals is a passionate, unreasoning thing. Among mammals the responsibility for nurturing, protecting and rearing the young falls almost entirely on the mother. The result is that Nature has implanted in these wild mothers a profound impulse to nurture infants.

The impulse is so strong that wild mothers occasionally show little discrimination between their own offspring and the young of an entirely different species. A mother cat that has lost her kittens will go out and kidnap baby rabbits and nurse them herself. p. 154

Dr. Chalmers Mitchell states:

"When wild animals become tame, they are really extending or transferring to human beings the confidence and affection they naturally give their mothers. Almost every creature that would naturally enjoy maternal care is ready to transfer its devotion to other animals or to human beings." p. 159
Psychologists have noticed in studying animal behavior that most of the higher, "human" traits of animals are found more often in solitary than in herd animals. The dumbest birds, for example, are those which, like the starling, fly in large flocks; whereas the birds of prey and the highly skilled nest-builders are solitary. Likewise the dumb, cud-chewing ruminants such as the cow, sheep and bison are herd animals; whereas the cunning carnivores such as tigers and foxes are largely solitary. Zoologist Munro Fox states: "Herding animals are of all the higher animals the most devoid of social instincts; maternal care is poorly developed, they are lacking in affection and sympathy, they are the most stupid of quadrupeds, and are in every respect greatly inferior to solitary carnivores." The solitary creature--the lone wolf--must of necessity live more by its own wits.

The superiority of the solitary creature in Nature may offer us a helpful lesson in our own human society. Today the momentous issue that grips the world is whether Man can thrive and develop his full talents best under a herd society, such as is practiced in some areas of the world, or under an individualistic society, such as is practiced or considered as ideal in many countries, including America. The lesson of Nature favors the rugged individual. p. 177-178

Year Read: 1997


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