Sept. 11 UPDATE

Source: How Animals Live by Bernard Stonehouse and Esther Bertram (2004)

Some animals are left to themselves after birth (such as most fish, amphibians, reptiles, and insects), some animals are cared after their parents until adulthood (such as most mammals), and some animals live together with their pack till their time (a number of mammals and some schools of fish.

Most animals learn through observation, usually through their parents, however some animals (such as insects and earthworms) cannot as their minds are more simplier.

Animals’ seem to mostly learn from their parents or their peers of the same species. Animals that are not raised by their parents mostly learn from instinct or their practiced inborn skills (snakes are a good example). Animals that are regarded as intelligent animals such as dolphins, apes, and dogs are that live with others of their own species.

Even activities that may seem like recreation to us humans are practices for survival or procreation for smarter animals. An instance would be two chimps or two wolves playfighting. Playfighting improves their discipline within their groups and teaches skills in showing dominating strength through minimal damage towards opponents. A lot of birds have dances for mating (mostly males towards the females) but some bird (such as the Lovely Cotinga) also use dancing as a means of distraction away from their offspring towards predators.

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Sept. 5 Update – Uncertainty

Based off this source.

According to David Smith, PhD, that animals may have the ability to reflect on their own mental processes and change them.

He and his team researched “animal metacognition”, an animal’s higher thinking process, on a bottlenose dolphin.

The dolphin managed to assess on the difficulty of the task given to it and declined on completing those trials. It was also mentioned that the dolphin displayed hesitation and uncertainty.

In contrast, when it was given an easy trial, it quickly responded and completed its task with ease, although rather excitedly.

Another experiment uses joystick-trained macaques. Each were trained to perform a response upon experiencing “uncertainty”. When having trouble with a task, they performed the “uncertain” action to gain hints from the experimenters. When exposed to transcranial magnetic stimulation (a procedure that uses magnetics fields to improve symptoms of depression) to erase their memory, they were still able to perform the “uncertain” action.

In conclusion, animals (or at least smart animals such as a bottlenose dolphin and macaque) share similar thinking processes with a human when it comes to uncertainty adaptively.

Sept. 2 Update

I found some useful information that oversees what we define as “consciousness” and correlating it with some apes.


From this website

LANGUAGE: The mutual possession of language is surely one of the strongest indications that the being you are talking to is conscious like you. Through their work teaching language to chimpanzees, many researchers have found glimmers of “conscious” light in animals’ ability to communicate.

SELF-AWARENESS: Self-awareness is another key ability of conscious beings. To be conscious is, firstly, to be conscious of one’s self–to be aware that ‘I’ am a being separate from others and the world around “me.”

THEORY OF MIND: Theory of mind is an awareness that others have minds as well: “I am not the only conscious being. Others are conscious and I take this into account in my dealings with them.”

In Wynne’s impassioned article, he implies that humans are the only conscious beings in the world. Then he qualifies that consciousness by describing it as “something like our own.” But how “human” must animal consciousness be?

Consciousness is not a tidy all-or-nothing entity; it varies with age, culture, experience and gender. And if animals have conscious experiences, these presumably vary widely as well. it might help to consider what an animal might be conscious of. It seems more likely than not that some animals are aware of objects and events that are critically important in their lives, such as what food is tasty, which animals are dangerous predators, and whether particular companions are friendly or aggressive.

Reading this all, it seems to be that animals that seem to pass the “language”, “self-awareness”, and “theory of mind” do not really care that much about leisure since it does not seem to have any importance to them. Of the non-physiological needs that they do care about seem to be about their companions’ attitude.

Decided Theme

As with the evaluation of our selected themes, I have chosen the social interactions between animals as the basis of my theme.

Narrowed down, I have decided the two research topics to be the following:

  1. Why do animals focus on surviving and not much on leisure unlike humans?
  2. If an animal’s natural instinct to survive is dampened (such as domestic animals), would their consciousness start to place leisure as its top priority?

Though I have decided to push down the sun and moon bears, I will continue to use them as my blog background and perhaps a subject in my essay 🙂

Introduction

This blog will be used for one of my English subject’s future assessments. The topic of the assessments will be on sun bears (also known as honey bears, scientific name: Helarctos malayanus) and moon bears (also known as asian black bears or white-chested bears, scientific name: Ursus thibetanus). The reason why I picked these two bears are personal. I was first interested in the moon bear and then found out about the sun bear.

Sun bear

Moon bear

7/21/2015 EDIT: Since this blog needs another topic, I’ll be adding social interactions between animals to at least (somewhat) go with the bear theme.

Since these topics were chosen for a very personal interest, these topics would interest to those who like animals or bears.