Picture of author.
14+ Works 700 Members 45 Reviews

About the Author

Virginia Morell is a correspondent for Science. Her work has appeared in Discover, Outside, and The New York Times Magazine, among other publications. She lives in Ashland, Oregon

Includes the names: Virgina Morell, Virginia Morell

Image credit: Virginia Morell

Works by Virginia Morell

Associated Works

National Geographic Magazine 2004 v205 #3 March (2004) — Contributor — 24 copies
National Geographic Magazine 2015 v228 #1 July (2015) — Contributor — 22 copies


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Morell, Virginia
20th Century
Places of residence
Ashland, Oregon, USA
McGill University (MA|1973)
Science writer
National Geographic
Smithsonian Magazine
GMA Gillian MacKenzie Agency
Short biography
Virginia Morell is a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and a contributing correspondent to Science. She has also written for Smithsonian, Discover, The New York Times Magazine, International Wildlife, Audubon, Slate, and Outside, among other publications. She and her husband, writer Michael McRae, live in southern Oregon, on the edge of the Siskiyou Mountains, where they hike every day with their Scotch Collies, Buckaroo and Annie Oakley.



Animal Wise is an interesting collection of essays on just how wise and emotional are fellow creatures are. There's nothing really new in this collection. I've read a lot of her conclusions in other books, magazine articles, or web sites. And I've seen a lot of these facts on nature programs. But what I like about this collections is just how encompassing the author is. We're all familiar with our closely related primates and accept the intelligence and emotions they posses. But Morell stress how many different and varied animals have developed emotions and intelligence. From insects, to fish, birds, rats and many more. They evolved using extremely different genetics paths, but all wound up with emotions very similar to our own.… (more)
kevinkevbo | 41 other reviews | Jul 14, 2023 |
The thoughts and emotions of our fellow creatures
jhawn | 41 other reviews | Jul 31, 2017 |
I want to love this book so much. It has a lot of interesting facts, and Morell does a great job of making you care about both the animals and the scientists who study them. The problem is that many of the conclusions that she draws don't really seem to be supported by evidence.

For example, in one chapter about the minds of dolphins, Morell describes an experiment in which two dolphins were captured together, but then separated. After a few weeks, the dolphins were reunited, and their actions showed that they were happy about this development. Morell then writes that this clearly shows that the dolphins recognized each other from before. It could also be argued that the dolphins were merely excited about being with another dolphin after a few weeks. I agree that, given the intelligence of dolphins as described elsewhere in the book, they most likely recognized each other, but the simple fact is that the experiment in question did not conclusively show this to be true.

This is just one example, and while most of the conclusions that Morell comes to are much more concrete, there are still numerous unsupported suppositions throughout the text. There are also quite a few quotations from scientists that are presented almost as fact, even though they are merely the professional opinions of the scientists themselves. I don't mean to suggest that I'm a better judge of the animal mind than these researchers, but I find it a bit misleading to present opinions in such a manner in a science book. The line between scientific opinion and scientific fact should be more clearly delineated in a few sections.

Nevertheless, it's a very engaging book. The parts of it that work do so splendidly and make for some of the most interesting scientific passages I've read in years.
… (more)
1 vote
barriboy | 41 other reviews | Jan 25, 2016 |
This book features ants who teach their nestmates routes, archerfish who learn how to hit a novel target by watching their colleagues, birds who can count and recognise themselves in a mirror (thus having a sense of self) and whose calls seem to include names for individuals, rats who laugh when they are tickled, the prodigious memories of elephants, dolphins who form friendships and alliances with other non-related dolphins, chimpanzees who can solve touch-screen intelligence tests and memorise patterns of objects faster than humans can, and finally dogs who pick up human social cues.

The author stresses the great strides being made in our knowledge now that the old paradigm of animals as stimulus-response automatons has gone. A recurring theme is that it is animals who live in social groups and need to know who can be relied upon for what and who can't which seem to develop intelligence.

A fascinating read.
… (more)
Robertgreaves | 41 other reviews | Aug 13, 2015 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by

Charts & Graphs