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Animal wise : the thoughts and emotions of our fellow creatures

by Virginia Morell

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11727104,032 (4.04)27
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Title:Animal wise : the thoughts and emotions of our fellow creatures
Authors:Virginia Morell
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Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures by Virginia Morell

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As a summary of research into the intelligence and emotions of a whole range of species - from ants to whales and dolphins - this book is a bit one-over-lightly at times - but on the other hand, it's also a very readable introduction to a fascinating topic. It was a shame octopi were relegated to a couple of footnotes, though - they are both intelligent and fascinating. (If you're not a fan of octopi, give this book an extra half-star.) ( )
  timjones | Feb 17, 2014 |
A fascinating look at current research into animal cognition. Scientists are just now beginning to acknowledge that animals other than humans have emotions and complex thoughts. The book is well-written and engaging, and full of interesting stories of researchers and what they have discovered.

What struck me the most in reading this is how much humans are absolutely determined that we must be unique and no other animals can have the same mental abilities that we do. What is at stake here is not only the ethics of animal research and the extinction of sentient beings, but humanity's place in the world. Just like those who resisted Galileo's proof that the earth moves around the sun, we currently resist the idea that our intelligence, reason, and emotion don't set us apart. ( )
  Gwendydd | Jan 15, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I think there will be naysayers in the world who will still hold onto beliefs that animals don't have a lot of cognitive ability, that they are almost as inanimate (despite all evidence to the contrary) as plant life, and that they only exist to serve or support human beings. Virginia Morell is not one of them. Anybody who loves animals and has spent time with them and knows that there is more going on behind their eyes than simple instinctive reactions should read this book and learn what sort of scientific studies have been going on in this field. Fascinating. -KA ( )
  invisiblelizard | Dec 20, 2013 |
This book may change the way you look at the animals that we share this planet with. The author tells us about many groundbreaking studies of animal thinking. Contrary to long held beliefs there is more and more evidence that many animals make conscious decisions, have emotions and can create tools to accomplish tasks. The author interviews and watches many scientists working with their test animals in labs and in the wild. Included are studies of ants, fish, birds, rats, elephants, dolphins, chimpanzees, and dogs and wolves. Virginia Morell has a very readable style and tells a great story of each team of scientists and their animals of choice. Although I was not surprised by most of the insights, there were also many new things I learned. Any pet owners will be reaffirmed by several things that they have suspected all along. My guinea pig Scamper definitely had a great personality. She was so cute when she stood on her hind legs and squeaked at me. Don't get me started on my cat, Sweetie Pie. That said a lot of the problems with studying animal cognizance have arisen from the tendency to explain animal behavior in human terms. Even though animals have been found to think and even have emotions the studies need to be designed to assure that the animals true reasoning and motivation can be accurately and decisively discovered. The extensive work and devotion of these scientists is amazing to me. It was also interesting that many of them ended up studying animals very different than those that they began working with. There will always be more areas to study and some views may change but if you are intrigued by this subject, this book is the perfect place to begin! I must disclose that I received this book free in a Goodreads giveaway. ( )
  jwood652 | Sep 28, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was hoping for something a bit more entertaining and a bit less dry, but overall an enjoyable read about studies on how various animals think from ants to parrots to dolphins. I can see how the author wanted to make it clear that there are scientific foundations for animal thought and emotions, but I would have liked a more approachable style with more stories about the animals and people rather than studies. By the end I felt hammered over the head with the message of "Yes, animals think and feel even though past scientists say they didn't!" ( )
  Morphidae | Aug 17, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Virginia Morellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elias, MariaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Surely, the most important part of an animal is its anima, its vital spirit, on which is based its character and all the peculiarities by which it most concerns us. Yet most scientific books which treat of animals leave this out altogether, and what they describe are as it were phenomena of dead matter. -- Henry David Thoreau
Dedication
For my Mother, and for Michael who loves dogs, cats, and all the wild creatures. And for our pets, Buck and Nini, who stayed close while I wrote.
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Animals have minds.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307461440, Hardcover)

Noted science writer Virginia Morell explores the frontiers of research on animal cognition and emotion, offering a surprising and moving exploration into the hearts and minds of wild and domesticated animals.
 
   Did you know that ants teach, earthworms make decisions, rats love to be tickled, and chimps grieve?  Did you know that some dogs have thousand-word vocabularies and that birds practice songs in their sleep? That crows improvise tools, blue jays plan ahead, and moths remember living as caterpillars?

   Animal Wise takes us on a dazzling odyssey into the inner world of animals, from ants to elephants to wolves, and from sharp-shooting archerfish to pods of dolphins that rumble like rival street gangs.  With 30 years of experience covering the sciences, Morell uses her formidable gifts as a story-teller to transport us to field sites and laboratories around the world, introducing us to pioneering animal-cognition researchers and their surprisingly intelligent and sensitive subjects.  She explores how this rapidly evolving, controversial field has only recently overturned old notions about why animals behave as they do.  She probes the moral and ethical dilemmas  of recognizing that even “lesser animals”  have cognitive abilities such as  memory, feelings, personality, and self-awareness--traits that many in the twentieth century felt were unique  to human beings.

   By standing behaviorism on its head, Morell brings the world of nature brilliantly alive in a nuanced, deeply felt appreciation of the human-animal bond, and she shares her admiration for the men and women who have simultaneously chipped away at what we think makes us distinctive while offering a glimpse of where our own abilities come from.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:30 -0400)

Explores the frontiers of research on animal cognition and emotion, offering a surprising examination into the hearts and minds of wild and domesticated animals.

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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