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Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures

by Virginia Morell

Other authors: Maria Elias (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3384277,236 (4)38
Explores the frontiers of research on animal cognition and emotion, offering a surprising examination into the hearts and minds of wild and domesticated animals.
Recently added byKarenRennich, RoxieTudor, darwinsbulldog, page75, mlevel, Den85, private library, Henry.Pole-Carew

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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. ( )
  kevinkevbo | Jul 14, 2023 |
The thoughts and emotions of our fellow creatures
  jhawn | 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. ( )
1 vote barriboy | 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. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Aug 13, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was an LTER book that I struggled to start but ultimately found interesting. Each chapter concerns itself with a different animal and the various studies that were, or are, being performed to prove animals have thoughts, emotions, and feelings. I went into it with no illusions that animals didn’t have thoughts, emotions, and feelings so she didn’t have to convince this reader of anything.

My struggle at the start was the first chapter, “The Ant Teacher”. I started it many times before I opted to skip it. Apparently I don’t care about the emotional life of ants.

The second chapter, “Among Fish”, ultimately went the way of the ants. I haven’t fished in years but I love to eat fish. I didn’t want anything to interfere with that. That fish feel pain is not something unexpected. I skimmed the chapter. I may go back to it.

Moving on, the book improved greatly. The chapters on birds, parrots, elephants, dolphins, and chimpanzees were fascinating. I had already heard of some of the studies the author discussed, but it was interesting to read about them. The elephant chapter was tear inducing. Unfortunately, the final chapter on dogs really offered nothing new that anyone with a half-smart dog didn’t already know. I didn’t mention the chapter on rats which I read but didn’t particularly enjoy because, well, rats.

The paperback edition I read, with a border collie on the cover, was entitled Animal Wise, How We Know Animals Think and Feel. It is apparently the same book as the hardcover, Animal Wise, The Thoughts and Emotions of our Fellow Creatures, with a baboon on the cover. This bothered me as someone might buy the same book twice. But I think it was wise; the title is clearer and the cover, at least to me, more appealing. ( )
1 vote Copperskye | Sep 17, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Virginia Morellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Elias, MariaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Potter, KirstenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
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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Explores the frontiers of research on animal cognition and emotion, offering a surprising examination into the hearts and minds of wild and domesticated animals.

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