Are we humans the most intelligent species on earth?

In the book The Dynamic Human, it is argued by a group of researchers from the University of Adelaide that humans aren’t the brightest crayons in the box.
In the book The Dynamic Human, it is argued by a group of researchers from the University of Adelaide that humans aren’t the brightest crayons in the box. Co-author and research fellow, Dr. Arthur Saniotis, said “For millennia, all kinds of authorities — from religion to eminent scholars — have been repeating the same idea ad nauseam, that humans are exceptional by virtue that they are the smartest in the animal kingdom. However, science tells us that animals can have cognitive faculties that are superior to human beings.”

How can this be?! No other animal can think or communicate like a human, so clearly no other species can match our intelligence!
Well, while humans, as a species, are pretty smart, it’s impossible for us to claim the title of “most intelligent” species. After all, we still have many questions left to answerabout our own brains, before we can truly compare them to that of another organism.
While primates are often used in studies on animal intelligence because of their similarities to humans, cetaceans are frequently used as research subjects as well. Looking at the brain of a cetacean, it is clear that perhaps dolphins and whales are much more complex than previously thought. Behind the glass of our “favorite” marine-themed amusement parks (we’re looking at you, SeaWorld) lives a complex organism who may have more to think and even say than we tend to believe.

-Speech Production

The Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas of the cerebral cortex are located in separate lobes of the brain (frontal and temporal lobes, respectively), but they are connected by their function in speech production and language processing. Most people believe that a human’s ability to communicate is far more complex and evolved than that of other animals, but cetaceans may have us beat.
According to a comparison of cetacean to primate brains from Michigan State University, “They have the distinct advantage over us in that their primary sense is the same as their primary means of communication, both are auditory. With primates, the primary sense is visual and the primary means of communication is auditory.”
Communication is so great in cetaceansthat there is a strong possibility they are able to project (yes … literally project) an “auditory image” that replicates a sonar message they may receive. The process is a bit confusing, but MSU describes it in this circumstance: “So a dolphin wishing to convey the image of a fish to another dolphin can literally send the image of a fish to the other animal. The equivalent of this in humans would be the ability to create instantaneous holographic pictures to convey images to other people.”
If they are in fact able to do this, there would have to be a natural tendency to break down stylized and abstracted images into words. Meaning, cetaceans, like people, use a series of signifiers to discern the exact objects they want to communicate about. We might say “tree” and think of a picture of a tree in our minds, but cetaceans can skip this step by simply projecting the image to other cetaceans.
Not fascinating enough? Well did you know that, with several sound producing organs, cetaceans are capable of conveying and receiving “20 times the amount of information as we can with our hearing”? This surpasses the amount of information we can perceive based on vision (a human’s primary sense).

-Emotions

Have you ever been so happy that you feel like you can conquer anything the world throws at ya? Well, you have the limbic system to thank for that. The limbic systemis a combination of multiple structures in the brain that deal with emotions and the formation of memories. When it comes to comparing the limbic system of whales to that of humans, we may need to rethink our emotional awareness.
Lori Marino, a neurobiologist who helped co-write “The Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans,” finds the limbic system of whales to be the most intriguing part of their brains, as they may be more complex than our own. In her research of killer whales, she found that the limbic system of a whale is “so large it erupts into the cortex in the form of an extra paralimbic lobe.”
Since the lobe merges with the cortex, it is believed that the lobe may create a mixture of both emotional and cognitive thinking. The placement may also suggest that secrets about social communication and self-awareness may also be located in this part of the whale brain.

-Advanced Cognition

Specialized brain cells called spindle neurons are most often associated with an organism’s ability to “recognize, remember, reason, communicate, perceive, adapt to change, problem solve and understand.”
Though this “advanced ability” is most often associated with organisms that are deemed to be the most intelligent, (*cough* humans *cough*) the truth is that spindle neurons have been isolated in the brains of both whales and dolphins, which suggests that whales do a lot more thinking than previously thought.
Dolphins, for example, have been known to recognize themselves in mirrors, solve problems, follow recipes, and associate a part of their anatomy with that of a human’s (such as when a dolphin waves it’s fin whenever a trainer waves their arm). Recent studies even indicate that dolphins are capable of creating personalized whistles that act as names for individual members of a pod. With this name, dolphins are able to communicate more efficiently while roaming the open seas.

-Using Our Intelligence for Good

While it appears that cetaceans have incredible abilities to feel emotions, understand complex problems and communicate in ways we can’t even imagine, humans don’t seem to value this. Because we assume we are so smart, we put the other creatures of the world underneath us. Knowing how dynamic cetaceans are, keeping them in glorified bathus  and forcing them to do tricks for food is insulted and cruel Could you imagine the pain of living in a small room your entire life and having to do flips to be fed? Sounds like a miserable existence, doesn’t it?

It is far past time that we started to use our intelligence for good to help the plight of cetaceans. Boycotting inhumane establishments, like marine parks (and zoos and circuses), is the first step, but fighting to obtain personhood rights for cetaceans should be next.

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Humans are responsible for the sudden disappearance of world’s largest mammals

During the late Pleistocene, about 125,000 years ago, some of the world’s largest and most impressive mammals suddenly started disappearing. This was a time when huge beasts collectively known as megafauna roamed the planet; animals like a hornless rhino that was ten times bigger than today’s living variety or a short-faced bear that would have towered over the mighties grizzlies. But even such terrifying megafauna was no match for a seemingly inconsequential-looking species: Homo Sapiens.

Paleontologists studied the entire mammal fossil record from 65 million years ago — after the dinosaurs became extinct followinga giant asteroid impact — up to present day. They found that for the most part, being large was not correlated to a heightened risk of going extinct — not until a new apex predator arrived on the scene: Homo Erectus. This 1.8-million-year-old human ancestor disrupted ecosystems with its novel tool use and group hunting style.

Before Homo Erectus, hominids were mostly vegetarians. Afterward, their diet became increasingly dependent on meat, which offered far more bang for the buck, calories-wise. But even so, it made economic sense to go after the biggest, loudest animals out there. A hare might feed a small family for a day but a woolly mammoth, well, that’s enough food for the whole tribe.

When humans arrived, large mammals were really done far. According to lead author Felisa Smith, a paleontologist at the University of New Mexico, and colleagues, the mammals that disappear tend to be 100 to 1000 times bigger than those that survive, a pattern that occurred on every continent except Antarctica throughout the last 125,000 years.

Two centuries from now, the world’s largest mammal could be a cow

It’s not like it was too difficult for very well organized human hunters to drive such species extinct. The larger the mammal, the harder it is for it to reproduce (i.e. longer breeding cycles), and it was not like humans had to hunt down every last one specimen of a species — it’s enough to stress a population just enough to keep the fertility rate below the replacement rate. Eventually, the population collapses along with an entire species.

By around 15,000 years ago, the average mass of North America’s mammals had fallen from 216 pounds to just 17 pounds, roughly the size of a Yorkshire terrier. When the researchers made some extreme assumptions, such as presuming that all currently listed mammals as endangered or threatened will become extinct, they found that biggest mammal on the planet 200 years from now will be the domestic cow.

Scientists had long known about the sudden disappearance of large mammals from the fossil records, but it was never clear whether humans, climate change, or a combination of the two were responsible. However, large and small mammals seemed equally vulnerable to temperatures shifts through the studied time span, the authors note, with suggests climate change had little to do with the observed size-specific culling.

It’s not just large mammals that are pressured to extinction by humans. The same size-selective pressures are affecting the world’s largest fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds.

Losing the world’s largest mammals — the products of millions and millions of years of evolution — will pose profound implications for the world’s ecosystems. Large mammals such as elephants tend to be herbivores and have huge ranges over which they devour copious amounts of vegetations. As such, these mammals act like ecological engineers, clearing the land and making way for open terrain such as savannahs. They also dispense nutrients over large distances around an ecosystem. So if big mammals are gone, the smaller ones might follow.

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No, That animal in the Zoo Isn’t Saying ‘Hi’ to You: Commonly Misinterpreted Captive Animal Behaviors

It’s safe to assume that at one point or another, each of us has experienced seeing animals in captivity. Having the opportunity to see wild animals like tigers, elephants and gorillas up close is an exhilarating prospect. Sadly, anyone who as ever set foot inside an establishment housing captive wild animals has also likely witnessed unnatural stereotypic behaviors.

Many patrons are amused, feeling as though the animals are following them around the exhibit. In some cases, they think the animals are “dancing.” The truth is these are only a few of the many stereotypic behaviors exhibited by captive animals. These abnormal behaviors describe “zoochosis,” the psychological impact captivity has on wild animals.

The term was first coined in 1992 by Bill Travers to characterize zoo animals. Today the term refers to any captive wild animal exhibiting abnormal behaviors, including animals in zoos, aquariums, testing (lab) facilities and pseudo-sanctuaries. These behaviors serve no clear purpose or function and are destructive to the animal’s mental, and often physical, well-being.

According to one study, the importance of behavior is as significant as the internal organs essential to one’s life. Animals that display normal behaviors allow for homeostasis, which is needed to ensure internal conditions are maintained and stable. When a captive animal is not capable of modifying or controlling its environment, animals begin to cope by exhibiting stereotypic behavior. Scientists believe this abnormal behavior releases endorphins and allows for momentary relief.

While many renowned facilities pour millions of dollars into programs designed to keep the animals “happy,” it’s clear that stereotypic behaviors are representative of poor welfare in captivity. No habitat can rival the environment animals would have in the wild; albeit the animals born in zoos and other facilities are often born through breeding programs, the number of animals suffering from these stereotypic behaviors only further corroborates that these animals are inherently wild and suffer in captivity.

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The world’s last remaining male northern white rhinoceros has died.

Sudan was euthanized the Monday, according to reports, after he was suffering too much pain from a degenerative disease.

There are only two females left – his daughter and granddaughter. Before Sudan was put down, ‘genetic material’ was collected from him, with conservationists hoping it can be used for breeding.
Much of the species was killed by hunting in earlier times – followed by illegal poaching in recent yeas.

Sudan, who lived in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, was described as a ‘gentle giant’ by staff there.

Elodie Sampere, a representative for Ol Pejeta, said: “He was a gentle giant, his personality was just amazing and given his size, a lot of people were afraid of him.

“But there was nothing mean about him.”

“He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity.

“One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists worldwide.” Rip Sudan 💔

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The reason why I became a vegan

First I want to explain what it means to be vegan and what is a vegan diet.

Veganism is a philosophy that moves by respect for animals. When you finish reading this post, 300,000 animals will have died at the hands of man.

If you look at the world with attention, you will see the inescapable hell in which we have converted it for the majority of the inhabitants of the planet.

Why?

Human civilization, with all its great advances, is based on the daily and implacable exploitation of the weakest.

The human being tends to use the animal world for its own benefit in many facets of life.

We eat a lot of meat or products from certain animals, we investigate with them to test treatments or creams, and we dress with their skins. And this is precisely what veganism avoids. To understand the vegan philosophy, we must think of a way of life with the utmost respect for the animal world. It is also a current that opposes speciesism, that is, discrimination according to the species. In fact, this is considered the main cause of animal  exploitation.

For the compassion I feel for other living beings. This is an argument used by many and ridiculed by many others, but it is true.

I do not pretend to convince others to follow my lifestyle, but I intend to live an honest life and in accordance with my principles: not harm others for free.

I do not need animal meat for my survival, which is why I consider it unnecessary to consume it. Still, if you consume it, I will not judge it, because it is my personal choice.

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The real reason why there aren’t any snakes in Ireland – it’s not St. Patrick

Legend tells it that in addition to introducing Christianity to Ireland, St. Patrick banished all the snakes from the Emerald Isle, chasing them into the sea from atop a cliff where he had undertaken a 40-day fast. As beloved as this element of St. Patrick’s story may be, a brief scientific inquiry and look back through history, such reveals what while St. Patrick did a great many things, sending snakes slithering away from Ireland was not one of them.

Snakes never came to Ireland

The truth is that there were never any snakes in Ireland to begin with.

There are no signs of snakes in Ireland’s fossil record. In fact, it’s likely that for millennia there weren’t any snakes in either Ireland or Britain, though Britain eventually gained three species of snakes: the Grass Snake, the Adder Snake and the Smooth Snake.
So, how did that happen?

During the Ice Age, Ireland and England were too frigid to be suitable habitats for cold-blooded reptiles such as snakes. But then, 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers shifted and land emerges connecting Europe, England and Ireland, allowing for migration. Animals that did make it to Ireland during this time period included brown bears, lynx and wild boars.

As Popular Science noted, when the glaciers began melting, the land between Ireland and England was covered over 8,500 years ago, but the land between Britain and Europe went underwater 6,500 years ago, allowing more time for snakes to slither over.

Ireland is not alone

Ireland is not the only place in the world without snakes – there are no native species of snakes to be found in Iceland, Greenland, Hawaii, New Zealand, parts of Canada, northern Russia, or, not surprisingly, Antarctica . . . meaning St. Patrick would have been a very busy fellow.

On the contrary, it seems that snakes have served as an allegory of paganism, which St. Patrick “banished” when he brought the Catholic religion to the shores of Ireland.

“There has never been any suggestion of snakes in Ireland [There was] nothing that St. Patrick could banish,” said Nigel Monaghan, guardian of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin,
Or, as Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center of the Health Sciences Center at Louisiana State University, “There are no snakes in Ireland for the simple reason that they could not get there because the weather was not It was favorable for them to be there. ”

The only courageous reptile that did make it all the way to and populate Ireland was the common lizard. The Slow Worm, a non-native species of lizard that does not have legs, is often mistaken for a snake even though it was not one.

Interestingly, during the Celtic Tiger, owning exotic snakes became something of a status symbol in Ireland. But when the Irish economy collapsed, many snakes wound up abandoned due to the high cost of care.

For St. Patrick’s Day 2013, the New York Times reported on the phenomenon and talked to Kevin Cunningham, founder of the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary, which took in many abandoned snakes.

He said that he believes Irish people have an inbred fear of snakes.

He added: “We have it deep inbred in us that they’re evil and nasty and tempted Eve and were led out of Ireland.

“One six-foot snake ended up with us recently after its owner lost his job and had to move in with his parents.

“Being a good Irish mother, she said, ‘Of course I’ll take you back home — but I’m not taking your boa constrictor.’”

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Molly Malone Story

For someone who trod this Earth for so brief a period, the youngest daughter of two fishmongers named Patrick and Colleen Malone had a far greater impact on those who knew her, and many who did not, than almost anyone else who had ever lived in the seedy waterfront neighborhoods of Dublin during the early part of the 19th century.

In fact, so great was the outpouring of grief at the funeral of young Molly Malone, struck down by a fever as she blossomed into full womanhood, that the pubs for sixteen miles in every direction were obliged to stay open around the clock for three days following the sad event. Indeed, the reason for this unprecedented communal agony was summed up neatly by the epitaph engraved on the simple stone that graced her final resting place. To wit: Here Beneath This Cold, Hard Stone, Lies Lovely, Lifeless Molly Malone. Cruelly Snatched From This Vale of Tears At The Tender Age of Seventeen Years. To See Her Was To Love Her.

“To see her was to love, her,” indeed. From the time she was a little girl holding on to her mother’s skirts as the two of them made their daily rounds through the streets of Dublin, everyone knew that Molly Malone would grow up to be among the most beautiful flowers of all Ireland.

And none were disappointed. In fact, such was young Molly’s beauty that when she was old enough to push her own barrow through the cobbled streets, she was like a ray of sunshine bringing hope and gladness into the dingy lives and sad hearts of all who saw her. None were unaffected by her grace, her delicate auburn-haired beauty, her happy disposition, or by the liquid sunshine of her voice as she sang out, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive oh!”.

Of all those affected by Molly’s charms, however, none was more so than a young man by the name of Timothy Pendleton. The illegitimate son of an English nobleman and a poor Irish seamstress, young Timothy made a meager living as an itinerant street musician who entertained passersby for whatever they would throw in his open fiddle case.

Every day, Timothy would situate himself on a corner where he knew Molly would pass on her appointed rounds. And every day as he heard her approach, he would change from whatever jig he was playing to the most beautiful violin sonata he knew. No words ever passed between them. But the depth of his feeling was plain to Molly by the lovely music he seemed to be playing just for her, and by the courtly little bow he made in her direction as she passed close by. If the truth were known, she felt something of the same passion for this shy young man with the sad, dark eyes and the violin.

One day, the appointed time came and Molly didn’t appear. Timothy remained on his corner until well after sunset, but there was no Molly to be seen. When she didn’t appear the following day, he began to worry. In all the time he had played on this corner, she had never failed him. And, as he had no way of knowing whether she had simply changed her route, or something terrible had happened to her, his worry
soon turned to dread.

It was on the third day of Molly’s absence that word began to spread through the streets of Dublin. Molly had been suddenly taken with a raging fever, and was even then being administered the last rites by Father Finnegan of Saint Bart’s. When the news reached Timothy’s ears, he packed up his fiddle and raced across Dublin to be near her in her hour of need.

But alas, he was too late. Even before he found the poor waterfront neighborhood where she had lived, Molly’s lifeless body was being prepared for the wake. The wailing had begun.

For weeks after the funeral, Timothy wandered the streets, unable to play his violin, and unable to put the vision of Molly from his mind. He could eat little, and slept even less. He began to look haggard and unkempt; his long hair became an uncombed wilderness, and a glint of madness shone from dark-circled eyes. Everywhere he went, he could
hear Molly’s voice plaintively crying out, “Cockles and mussels, alive alive, oh!”.

And every day he saw her form, disappearing into an early morning fog, or just rounding a corner in the distance. It soon became apparent, even to him, that he must leave Dublin or surely die of this madness.

And so, with little more than the clothes on his back, his violin and the few pounds he had saved, young Timothy found passage on a merchant schooner and set sail for the distant shores of America.

It so happened that the ship upon which Timothy sailed was bound for the New England seaport town of Portsmouth. Here he disembarked, and soon found employment on the docks, unloading ships and helping out in a ship’s chandlery. In a vain attempt to bury his homesickness for Dublin along with his memory of Molly, he threw himself into his work with the energy of ten men. He lived alone in a single room, saved his
money, and was never seen in the gaming and ale houses frequented by the other young unmarried men of his day. Nor was he ever seen in the company of a woman.

Thus, within a few short years, Timothy had established himself as a man of some importance in the bustling seaport town. He became a successful merchant with a thriving import export business. He
invested in one of the great clipper ships being built on the Piscataqua Yards. He built a fine brick home on the corner of Penhallow and State Streets, where he lived alone with a man-servant and two dogs. He became, in short order, the most sought after yet
elusive eligible bachelors in Portsmouth. But in all the years since leaving Dublin, he had never once picked up his violin.

One winter’s night, as he sat warming himself by the fire with the one after dinner brandy he allowed himself, he remembered Molly. He could see the way she looked at him as she passed with her barrow of fish; and could hear the sweet strains of the music as he played for her. He allowed himself a second brandy, and then a third; and the longer he sat staring into the fire, the more he felt an undeniable urge to pick up the violin and play.

And so he did. Miraculously, the violin had survived the ocean crossing and ensuing years without injury. Its sound was as sweet and true as an Irish sunrise, and his fingers were as sure on the bow and strings as the day he put it down. But it was the song he played that really surprised him — a melody he had never heard; a simple, happy tune with words that came from he knew not where, played and sung as though someone else were doing the playing and singing.

He played that night until his fingers burned and his heart broke with the memory of his youth on the streets of Dublin. He played until he could play no more. And as he slowly, gently laid the violin back in
its dusty case, he thought he heard a noise behind him.

“Timothy.” He froze. It was the voice of a young woman.

“Timothy,” the voice said again. “Please…don’t be afraid.”

He turned. And there, in the center of the room, the fire light dancing in her auburn hair, looking as young and lovely as the day she died, stood the figure of Molly Malone.

“S…s…surely, it’s the brandy,” he stammered when his voice returned. “This can’t be…I must be…this is all a dream…”

“No, Timothy,” she smiled and took a step closer to him. “This is no dream, and I’m no vision. It is I, Molly Malone.”

“But…but why?” he said. “Why have you come?”

The figure moved another step closer. “It was the music,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for you to play your violin for me. The way you did in Dublin.”

With that, she took a final step toward him, put her hands on either side of his face, and as though to prove she were no mere apparition, kissed him full on the mouth.

Before he could recover from the shock of her warm lips on his, she stepped back and smiled.

“Now, pick up that violin,” she said, a twinkle in her Irish eyes. “I feel like dancing!”

As you might have surmised, gentle reader, the tune Timothy played on the night of Molly’s visit turned out to be none other than “The Ballad of Molly Malone”; or, as it is more commonly known among school
children and lovers of Irish lore on both sides of the Atlantic, “Cockles and Mussels.”

As for Timothy? We know that he lived a long and happy life in the brick house on Penhallow and State, never married, and was considered an eccentric old fool by most of his contemporaries. After all, a man
who spent every evening and night of his life all alone in that big, empty house, must be a little bit mad.

And never mind the stories you might have heard about fiddle music and silhouettes of dancing figures coming from the front parlor of the old Pendleton house late at night.

You might have even heard snatches of music, or caught a fleeting glimpse of a dancing figure here yourself. But pay it no mind. It’s just your imagination. Or perhaps you’ve had one too many brandies yourself.

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