Animal Emotions

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Animal Minds: Latest Research From the Scientists' Mouths

A new podcast from Lapham's Quarterly summarizes latest and greatest discoveries

The study of nonhuman animal (animal) minds is a "hot" field often called "cognitive ethology". Detailed and rigorous research is continually showing that other animals are incredibly smart and emotional and even show moral sentiments (see also). 

Now, a new podcast from Lapham's Quarterly, summarizes the latest and greatest discoveries in the study of animal minds (see also). Topics include language in animals, concept formation, self-awareness, fair play, and moral behavior, and a wide range of animals is discussed. 

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In my humble opinion this podcast is a "must listen". Contributors include Jane Goodall, Frans de Waal, Virginia Morell, Con Slobodchikoff, Irene Pepperberg, Diana Reiss, and yours truly. The content is essentially an up-to-date "book on tape" for audiences of all ages and backgrounds, and I hope it will be shared widely because it is an easy way to learn more about the fascinating animals with whom we share our magnificent planet.

The teaser image can be seen here

Note: Consistent with recent discoveries of "surprises" in the study of animal minds, we now know that humpback whales can be added to the list of animals who display what can be called culture. Humpbacks are known to blow bubbles to round up prey. More than 30 years ago, in 1980, "a single whale was seen adding a new twist to the old technique: Before casting a bubble net, the whale whacked its tail on the sea’s surface. The loud smack shakes up the water and may help the whale catch more prey. Since then, more and more whales have adopted the skill, called lobtail feeding." Researcher Drew Rendell, of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, goes on to note, "The more lobtail-hunting friends a whale had ... the more likely the animal was to pick up the skill." There is still some debate about whether other animals have cultural traditions but in my opinion the question that should be asked is why culture has evolved, not if it has evolved. 

 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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