Human and animal: find ten differences

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Human and animal: find ten differences
Human and animal: find ten differences

Throughout history, human pride has been dealt three blows. The first fell on Galileo, who declared that the Earth is not the center of the Universe and revolves around the Sun. The second - on Darwin, who encroached on the "king of nature" himself, declaring that he was not the crown of creation at all, but descended from monkeys. The third - at Freud, who swung at all the most sacred - at the "soul" of man, which he called an animal.

Friend of human

We are monkeys

Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake, and Galileo's works after his abdication were tried to be forgotten like a bad dream. But Torricelli, Borelli, Newton, Einstein came. They continued the work of Galileo, and today no one doubts their truth. Even the church, in 1822, finally officially recognized that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not vice versa. Copernicus wrote his first works in the early 1500s. Less than 300 years have passed.

Darwin's works were called blasphemous, and the clergy considered it their duty to spread ridiculous rumors that the great scientist allegedly renounced his teachings on his deathbed. Today, the "blasphemous" theory of evolution is considered to be definitively proven. Over the course of a hundred years of experimentation and research, the likelihood of the theory being wrong has steadily declined. Today it is almost indistinguishable from zero. But if no one doubts the truth of the conclusions of astrophysicists, then biologists are still forced to enter into discussions with theologians, politicians and showmen, proving what has long been proven. So, in a modern, technologically advanced society, the debate about whether it is necessary to teach children in Russian schools the basics of creationism on a par with the theory of evolution, because it is "unfair", and children should receive "alternative" knowledge about the origin of humans and animals. To these, as is customary among creationists and their supporters, illogical arguments can be answered with only one answer: why not teach children the theory of flat-earthers (supporters of the idea that the Earth is flat exist today!) Or, say, the basics of alchemy ?..

Freud is still not recognized. But, as "the tragic Wotan of the twilight of the bourgeois era" himself said: "The voice of reason is quiet, but it will repeat until it is heard."

However, few people guess, but the beginning of psychoanalysis with its "animal" in a person was laid, in fact, by none other than Charles Darwin, who at that time expressed a completely seditious idea that the difference between the mental functions of humans and higher animals is quantitative rather than quality. In other words, the brilliant biologist wanted to say that what distinguishes us from animals is not something special, inherent only to humans, but only that we simply have more of this “special” than our truly younger brothers.

Several years ago, former US Senator Sam Brownback said that man is not an evolutionary accident, but that he reflects the "image and likeness" of the highest being. Many Russian politicians like to talk about something similar.

Many people still perceive the fact that we all descended from monkeys as a nihilistic attack and a personal insult. We hasten to discourage them completely - we are not descended from monkeys at all, we are - monkeys.


Smart animals

“Of course, science today cannot boast of a complete deciphering of all the secrets of the human psyche,” the famous Russian biologist Alexander Markov writes in his book “Human Evolution: Monkeys, Neurons and the Soul”. - There are still many unresolved problems. The main one is that neuroscientists cannot yet even theoretically imagine how a perceiving subject - "I" can be made of neurons and synapses. But the trend is evident: one after another, the most important aspects of the human personality, until very recently considered inaccessible to the natural sciences (for example, memory, emotions and even morality), are confidently transferred to the material sphere, revealing their physiological, cellular, biochemical nature and evolutionary roots. In a word, today science has already come close to the "most holy" in man, and some experts fear that this may lead to a new exacerbation of the conflict between religion and science."

In this regard, first of all, it should be said that recent studies have allowed scientists to discover that many - almost all - aspects of thinking and behavior that at all times were considered "purely human" are also found in animals. There is no insurmountable gap between an animal and a person in the sphere of the psyche. So Darwin, who wrote about the "quantitative" nature of the differences between the thinking of humans and animals, looked into the water - at least in many respects he was definitely right. Textbooks have already appeared on the elementary thinking of animals.

In order to understand how the higher mental functions, including thinking, were formed in humans, a comparative analysis of the same functions in animals is required. What are our natural brethren capable of?

Experiments to study the thinking of animals began a hundred years ago - in 1913. It was then that the founder of zoopsychology, Nadezhda Ladygina-Kots, first discovered the ability of chimpanzees to generalize and abstract, that is, to the leading operations of thinking. And in 1914, experiments began, during which the founder of Gestalt psychology, German and American psychologist Wolfgang Köhler, for the first time proved the ability of chimpanzees to urgently solve problems of getting bait with the help of tools.

Think logically

At all times it was believed that, among other things, a person differs from animals in the ability to build his thinking on causal rather than associative connections. This means that from the set of coincidences, a person can select the true cause of a particular event. It is this barrier that philosophers and psychologists called the main barrier separating the animal mind from the human.

In recent years, ethologists have been able to prove that this barrier is not as insurmountable as it seems. Experiments have shown that not only higher animals, such as apes, but also living things with less developed intelligence, are able to identify cause-and-effect relationships. One such study was conducted in 2006 on rats. In the aforementioned book, Alexander Markov talks about him. First, in the room where the rats were, the lights were turned on, then a beep was heard. The next stage of training was a slightly changed situation: the light was turned on in the room, after which a rat reward appeared in the feeder - sugar syrup. That is, the experimenters created a situation that, with the ability to understand cause-and-effect relationships, it would be reasonable for rats to interpret as follows: "Light is the cause of sound, and it is also the cause of food."

If rats do not have the ability to distinguish between cause and effect, then they can only form an associative connection between light and sound and food with light. A third association is also possible - food with sound. And after the beep sounded, the rats actually looked for syrup in the feeder. But this does not mean anything yet: rats in this case can both understand the reasons for the appearance of the reward, and simply form associative connections.

However, cunning scientists have complicated the task.They provided the rats with the ability to regulate the appearance of sound themselves by installing a special sound lever in the cage. And what? If the rat itself pressed the lever, then it did not run to the feeder, to check whether its favorite syrup appeared. If the sound was heard without her intervention, the rat immediately ran to the trough.

“The conclusion suggests itself,” writes Alexander Markov. - If the simple associative connection "sound-light-food" worked, then the rat would not care for what reason the sound was heard. The sound would just make her think of light, and the light is associated with food, and the rat would go to the feeder to look for syrup. But she was able to understand that the sound that she herself caused with the lever would not lead to the appearance of syrup. Because the reason for the reward is light, and there was no light."

On the same rats, scientists conducted a second, more complete experiment, during which the animals were initially trained to perceive the model of causality "sound is the cause of light, light is the cause of food." As you can see, in this case, it is logical to throw out useless light from the chain, and leave sound - the true reason for the appearance of syrup. To the delight of the experimenters, the rats did just that - they poked their muzzles into the feeder both if they pressed the sound lever themselves, and if the sound was heard without their participation. That is, the rats realized that the sound is the reason for the appearance of food, and began to try to "induce" food on their own.

“Such a decision-making model, according to the researchers, cannot be interpreted from the standpoint of associative thinking. These are not associations, but real logic,”Markov writes. By the way, the rudiments of logic were found even in fish.


Empathize with your neighbor

The ability to empathize (empathy) has also always been considered an exclusively human quality. And scientists managed to destroy this stereotype. The fact that higher primates are capable of empathizing with their neighbors has long been recognized by most researchers, but there is evidence that other mammals, as well as birds (for example, chickens), exhibit the same qualities.

This, for example, is evidenced by experiments conducted by employees of the Psychological Department and the Center for Pain Research at McGill University (Canada) in 2006.

They tortured mice in three different ways, injecting the unfortunate animals with injections of acetic acid, formalin, and also burning their paws with a heat ray (all three types of "torture" did not pose a threat to the life and health of the mice, and caused a moderate pain syndrome). The animals did not suffer in vain. It turned out that mice react more strongly to their own pain if they see that their neighbor is also suffering. Interestingly, this effect was observed only if the mice were familiar with each other, that is, they were in the same cage for at least two weeks. Scientists were able to prove that the frequency of twitching from pain and licking the pricked area is not associated with imitation, but with empathy, empathy with their relatives.

Understand other people's actions

Experiments in the early 2000s revealed that 14-month-old babies have the ability to understand other people's actions. To test for the same ability in great apes, in 2007, American ethologists conducted experiments with three species of monkeys - the rhesus monkey, tamarin and chimpanzee. (about all the experiments, as well as more about this topic in general, read the book by Alexander Markov "Human Evolution: Monkeys, Neurons and the Soul").

It was found that all three species of primates clearly distinguish "random" gestures of the experimenter from "purposeful". It is interesting that all the monkeys that participated in the experiment were able to analyze other people's actions, including non-standard ones. They coped with this task no worse than 14-month-olds.

Scientists believe that the monkeys of the New World (including the tamarin) split from the monkeys of the Old World (our ancestors) about 40 million years ago.Therefore, the authors of the study concluded that the understanding of the motives of other people's actions was formed in primates for a very long time. Probably, this quality appeared in connection with the social lifestyle of primates: not understanding the behavior of another in such a close group as monkeys, it is very difficult to survive.


Use tools

Carnivorous mammals are also quite intelligent. In one of the Australian research institutes, a surveillance camera recorded how wild dingo dogs deliberately moved the table in the aviary in order to stand on it and get to the bait. Such abilities are sometimes displayed by ordinary domestic dogs. Nevertheless, predators are still inferior in intelligence to higher and even lower monkeys, which is clear from the structure of their brain. Recently, data have also been obtained on elephants, which are also capable of moving various objects in order to get food. And this is also understandable, given the complexity and size of the elephant's brain (we emphasize that the size of the brain of any creature must be correlated with the size of its body; the brain of an elephant is large for the size of this animal, but by human standards it is very small).

With mammals, it is more or less clear, but how things are with birds, for example, with crows, which are traditionally considered very intelligent animals. Let us emphasize that the brain of birds is very different from the brain of mammals: it does not have characteristic convolutions, it differs both in shape and in internal structure. A fairly large number of cases of spontaneous use of tools and even their manufacture in birds, both in captivity and in natural conditions, have been noted. So, the New Caledonian crow, like the Galapagos finch, in nature uses four types of home-made tools (including peculiar hooks from twigs broken by them) in order to get insects from under the bark.

In 2002, there was an insane sensation in the world of zoology - a constantly turned on video recorder recorded how the New Caledonian crows (in captivity), who were not specially trained in anything, made a hook many times from an initially straight piece of wire and used it to get them a hard-to-reach bait. It is important to emphasize that in nature the crow breaks off already “ready-made” hooks-twigs, in this case the crow made the hooks itself from a material that is not found in the wild. Therefore, the authors of the study based on these images write that the New Caledonian ravens, before making the tool, already seem to have a mental image of it.

It is interesting that the same task (making a hook from a straight piece of wire to extract the bait) was then offered to rooks - birds that are practically not seen in tool activity, therefore they have no hereditary predisposition to this. And, nevertheless, upon presentation of the wire to the rook, he made a hook from it in the same way (albeit in a completely different way than the crow did) and took out the bait.

So, the use and even the manufacture of tools is typical not only for several species of mammals - not primates, but also for birds with a high level of brain development. The high diversity of species capable of this, according to the famous Russian biologist Zoya Zorina, suggests that it is the developed brain that plays a role in the use and manufacture of tools, and not special, isolated cases.

But, of course, the most talented of animal toolmakers are primates. Many monkeys are able to break nuts, shells, bird eggs with stones, wipe dirty fruits with leaves, use chewed leaves as sponges in order to get water from hard-to-reach places, throw stones at "enemies", etc.


Help your neighbor

Experiments have also shown that many animals (for example, social insects) are capable of disinterested assistance to close relatives, and sometimes to non-native individuals (although the latter is extremely rare).Until recently, it was believed that all this is also a property of only human nature. But in the same 2006, scientists from the Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. Max Planck (Leipzig) set up a series of experiments that showed that not only small children, but also young chimpanzees willingly help people and do it completely disinterestedly. Employees of the same institute have observed groups of forest chimpanzees in their natural environment - in the Ivory Coast National Park for almost 30 years, and have come to the conclusion that chimpanzees are often adopted to raise foster cubs. Such an act, as you know, is very "expensive" even for people, to say nothing of wildlife. The foster parent must feed the baby, carry him around, protect him from dangers, often risking his own life. For 27 years, experts have recorded 36 orphans (whose mother, who was their only protection and nurse, died for one reason or another). Of these, 18 were adopted, 10 of which survived. Both chimpanzee girls and boys were adopted. Interestingly, among the adoptive parents were not only females, but also males. Scientists associate this strange behavior for survival with the living conditions of the entire population. The more dangerous the environment in which this or that group of chimpanzees lives, the more often cases of adoption are observed. So caring for orphans is probably beneficial to the survival of the entire group. Naturally, this does not negate the very fact of manifestation of selfless altruism.

Many animals are also capable of making plans for the future and critically assessing themselves and their abilities. These are also the qualities that at all times were attributed exclusively to man.

Strange monkeys

It seems quite interesting that in captivity, monkeys quickly master very different, including very complex, types of tool activity. However, this is never observed in nature. An even more surprising strangeness lies in the incredibly wide variety of individual differences in the instrumental abilities of members of the same species. “It seems that in natural populations 'technical geniuses' peacefully cohabit with 'impenetrable technical dumb', and hardly any of them feel the difference … geniuses, and not at all typical representatives of their species. Even one and the same animal can sometimes show wonders of ingenuity, sometimes display inexplicable stupidity (for example, trying to break a nut with a boiled potato),”writes Alexander Markov.

In his opinion, intelligence, apparently, is not critical for the survival of most animals, it is "a kind of epiphenomenon, a side effect of the characteristics of brain activity that are more important for their life." Otherwise, natural populations of animals would not have had such an extreme range of variability in this trait. “Although, on the other hand, is it different with people?” Markov asks.

Captive girl monkeys prefer to play with dolls and stuffed animals, while boys prefer “male” toys. It is believed that this is partly due to social learning, and partly to innate inclinations. Not so long ago, however, it was discovered that chimpanzee girls play "dolls" in the wild. A variety of pieces of wood serve as their dolls.

Anthropologist Dwight Reed of the University of California, Los Angeles, like many other scientists, believes that intellectual ability is especially strongly dependent on the volume of short-term working memory (SCM). Your PKK now contains the last few words of this text, which you can repeat with your eyes closed, without hesitation and without hesitation. Many experiments have shown that humans have an OCD of about 7, while our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, have an OCD of about 3.That is, they are able to operate simultaneously with a maximum of only two or three concepts, use only two or three tools at a time. So, in the entire history of scientific observations, even the most ingenious and famous of the monkeys - chimpanzees Nim Chimpski and bonobos Kanzi, who mastered speech - mastered a system of signs-words specially developed for them.

Despite this greatest achievement, both monkeys remained adherents of very monosyllabic sentences for life, consisting, as a rule, of one word - for example, "give", much less often - of two, for example, "give a banana", and very rarely of three. Of four or more words (excluding repeating ones), the geniuses of the monkey world have never made sentences. Despite everything, there is no single criterion for mental abilities that would be common to all animals. It is impossible to determine who is smarter: dolphins, monkeys or parrots. Some animals are better at one type of task than worse at another. We are also no exception. Jays or squirrels storing supplies in caches are able to remember many more points on the ground than we do.

Monkeys, even the most ingenious ones, tend to act automatically, without thinking for a long time, obeying learned, well-oiled actions. Most often, they begin to think - and then it becomes clear that they are capable of more - when they find themselves in a non-standard situation, unusual environmental conditions, etc.

In addition to everything else, the OKWP should enhance innovation and inventive capacity. Therefore, the author of the book "Human Evolution: Monkeys, Neurons and the Soul" also makes an assumption - perhaps the line between human and non-human thinking is that we are less susceptible to stereotypes and dogmas, do not get stuck on the same problem solution or explanation phenomena, do we “turn on our brains” a little more often? Alas, as you might guess even from the beginning of the article, each of us is endowed with this ability to varying degrees.

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