Human beings too are part of the animal kingdom

The reluctance to posit human traits in animals — for fear that one might be anthropomorphizing what are intrinsically non-human behaviors — is itself the expression of a prevailing anthropocentric superstition: that human beings are fundamentally different from all other animals. When it comes to discerning human-like communication in non-human species there is an additional bias: scientific researchers tend to over-emphasize the function language has as a system of symbolic representation and understate its importance as a means for engaging in emotional exchanges. Even though our understanding of dolphin communication is very rudimentary, I’d be inclined to believe not only that dolphins do call each other by name, but that they are also keenly attuned and adept in the combination of name and tone. After all, the utterance of an individual’s name generally signifies much less than the way the name is called — unless that is one is sitting in a waiting room and being hailed by a nameless official. Lucky for dolphins their exchanges never need to be straight-jacketed like that. … [click on title to read the rest]

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