Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Difference Between Humans and Animals, Part XIV

Perhaps the difference between humans and animals is human interaction with animals:
Traditionally, the big three traits of humans have been sophisticated communication, tool use, and domestication of animals. Shipman argues that the fact that people take domestication one step further and adopt pets as family members is a fourth distinguishing trait of human beings.

Shipman calls this close bond with animals the “animal connection,” and says it unites all the other human traits. Unlike other animals, who can only communicate via a limited set of signals, humans have languages capable of expressing complex concepts—and we share our language with our pets, treating them as if they understand our words (even though in many, if not most cases, they do not!). While some animals such as chimpanzees do make and use tools, no other animal utilizes so many tools in such complex and varied ways as humans do. We even use animals themselves as tools—from rodent bomb-sniffers to carrier pigeons to police dogs. In nearly every case where humans work with animals, they form close bonds.
The article even lists the practical socializing effects of owning pets.

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