Cover image for Inside the animal mind
Inside the animal mind
Page, George (George H.)
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, 1999.
Physical Description:
xv, 285 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
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QL785 .P225 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QL785 .P225 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the past, scientists have refused to acknowledge that animals have anything like human intelligence. But a growing body of research reveals otherwise. We've discovered ants that use leaves as tools to cross bodies of water, woodpecker finches that hold twigs in their beaks to dig for grubs, and bonobo chimps that can use sticks to knock down fruit or pole-vault over water. Not only do animals use tools--some display an ability to learn and problem-solve, as well. Based on the latest scientific and anecdotal evidence culled from animal experts in the field and in the labs,Inside the Animal Mindis an engrossing look at animal intelligence, cognitive ability, problem solving, and emotion. George Page, originator and host of the long-running PBS seriesNature,offers us an informed, entertaining, and humanistic investigation of the minds of predators and scavengers, birds and primates, rodents, and other species. In the bestselling tradition ofThe Hidden Life of Dogs,When Elephants Weep, andDogs Don't Lie About Love,Inside the Animal Mindis a fascinating narrative explaining the nature and depth of animal intelligence.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Two "intimate" looks at animals are appealing library acquisitions. Galdikas is to orangutans what Jane Goodall is to chimpanzees (both were students of the great paleontologist Louis Leakey), and in this new book, she provides an overview of her work with this most arboreal of the great apes. When she started her field work in 1971, Galdikas basically knew nothing about how orangutans lived in the wild--but then neither did the rest of the scientific community. The present work is a compilation and popularization of what Galdikas and her coworkers have learned over the years. The text is an excellent introduction to the lives of those mostly solitary red apes. Males and females are very different in their daily existence. Galdikas discovered that females live with their current offspring for up to eight years, while males live almost totally alone, interacting with other orangs only to fight for dominance (males) or to breed (females). One excellent chapter describes the author's pioneering program to return ex-captive orangutans to the wild--an extremely successful operation with very high survivorship of the rehabilitated animals. Karl Ammann's photographs beautifully illustrate the text and reveal much about the behavior of wild orangs in an up close and personal manner. Highly recommended, and the proceeds from the book's sale go directly toward orangutan conservation. Page points out in the first chapter of this marvelous look at animal intelligence that, in the beginning, people were not only immersed in the world of animals but were animals in both the colloquial and technical senses. The domestication of animals marked the beginning of the estrangement of humans from other animals, and the beginning of our belief that only humans have consciousness. Written as a companion volume to a series airing in January 2000 on Nature, this investigation of current thought on animal intelligence, consciousness, and emotion presents an overview of scientific and anecdotal evidence from both lab and field research. The first three chapters act as a primer and historical survey of the theories and investigations into the intelligence of animals. The remainder of the book roughly follows the structure of the television series, covering animal thinking, emotion, and consciousness. The animal species range from dolphins to parrots to apes to squid, and in all cases the subjects reveal not only their intelligence, but their learning ability and their emotional responses. Overall, the book not only stands alone as an introduction to the minds of animals but will be eagerly sought out by viewers of the Nature series. --Nancy Bent

Publisher's Weekly Review

Do cats get depressed? "Does the beaver have the dam in mind?" Can we say animals think and feel as we do? If so, which animals? If not, why not? Such questions, and the relations among them, prompt the wide-ranging essays in this volume, which condense and synthesize, in language meant for laypeople, research on intellection, emotion and learning in species from pigeons to porpoises to people. Following in particular Donald Griffin's Animal Minds, Page also brings in Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's compelling if anecdotal writings on dogs; hummingbirds' "intentional planning"; cognitive tests (does your dog see itself in the mirror?); mimicry and deception in fireflies' codes; primatologist Jane Goodall's "reports that chimpanzees sometimes make threatening gestures against thunderstorms"; famous apes who communicate in sign languages; and assorted other evidence that some animals (not just chimps, either) deserve to be considered conscious beings. A brisk final chapter addresses the political and ethical implications of animal minds. Page hosts the long-running PBS TV show Nature, and his book arrives as a tie-in to three Nature episodes that share its title. (The episodes air in January 2000.) Always personable and often casual, Page's writing (like that in most other educational-TV tie-ins) may frustrate his most informed readers. Many more, though, will welcome his surveys of this immense topic, one that appears with increasing frequency as philosophers, ethicists, cognitive scientists, animal-behavior experts and specialists on various species and habitats find themselves asking, and answering, similar questions. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

While this book is not exactly "groundbreaking," it does serve as a good introduction for the lay reader to the topic of animal consciousness. Page, host of the popular PBS series Nature, has written an accessible book replete with illustrative stories and anecdotal evidence showing animals solving problems and using tools, e.g., a bonobo ape using a stick to knock fruit from a tree or vault over water. He brings together the thought of the major philosophers, scientists, and ethologists of our day who study the nature of animal consciousness, liberally quoting from their works and his interviews with such dignitaries as Jane Goodall. Since this title is a companion to a three-part PBS series airing in January 2000 on Nature, most libraries will wish to acquire.√ĄPeggie Partello, Keene State Coll. Lib., NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From Altamira to Anthropomorphism In the beginning, our lives were totally immersed in the world of animals. In the beginning, in fact, we were animals, in the colloquial as well as the technical sense of that word. Our Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon ancestors relied on birds and beasts for food and clothing; they went to the mat one-on-one with tigers and bison and bears, and they took heavy casualties. We were an integral part of a world that was "red in tooth and claw." Surely it is no coincidence that our oldest surviving visual art--the cave paintings at Altamira, Lascaux, and other sites in southern Europe--depict cattle, horses, bison, and deer as objects of hunting and veneration. Animals predominate; there are very few human figures in any of this work. Then there is the idea that our earliest music might have been created in response to the myriad sounds of the natural world. After all, those were the only sounds we heard: There weren't any jets, jackhammers, or jukeboxes around, but there were songbirds in profusion. No wonder Orpheus, the beguiling musician of Greek mythology, could mesmerize a rapt menagerie of wild beasts, who responded to every note of his lyre. While the very earliest Paleolithic art is dated about thirty thousand years ago, the famous work in southern Europe is dated about 10,000 b.c. Anthropologists believe that those highly artful ancestors were still exclusively hunters and gatherers, but this economic and cultural restriction would soon be overcome. At just about the time the Solutreo-Magdalenian artists were producing their greatest "canvases" at Altamira, the peoples of Mesopotamia and the Middle East were beginning to domesticate mammals. In the long story of our relationship with animals and our still-evolving understanding of the animal mind, domestication marked the beginning of the estrangement that is still with us today. It was a watershed of incalculable importance, as proved by the fact that it was incorporated into all the creation stories of the time. The first chapter of Genesis says: And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he them; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. The subsequent thirtieth verse of that chapter reads: "And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth on the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so." Some commentators believe that this verse implies that the Garden of Eden before the Fall was a vegetarian society. I diplomatically take no position on this provocative notion, but there can be no doubt about the disposition of the earth's resources following the Flood: And God blessed Noah and his sons and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hands are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. In short, God gives mankind dominion over all that lives on this earth and He makes it clear that eating meat is condoned. Various passages throughout the Old Testament prescribe respectful treatment for domesticated and wild animals, and the same holds for Judaic Law, but the essential message of the Pentateuch and the legacy of the Old Testament are clear enough: Animals were created, or designated, for our needs. Nowhere in the New Testament is this message challenged. In Matthew 6:26, Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, in the verses that precede the beautiful "lilies of the field" image, "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" In his first Letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul reiterates this theme when he writes, "For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt. And writing 350 years later, St. Augustine cites Jesus' withering of the apple tree that had failed to bear fruit, and his sending of the devils into the herd of swine, as proof that the natural world is not subject to the concepts of morality that should govern our dealings with other men and women. The natural world is our rightful domain. Nor could this relationship between man and animal be otherwise in the West, because it flows necessarily from our having been created by God in His image. If humans are kindred to God, aren't we therefore fundamentally different from every animal? As God has dominion over us, so must we have dominion over them. It is logical, and it is written. (And thus, by the way, the adamant prohibition against bestiality in Western culture. Unlike incest, also the subject of strictest censure, bestiality is an act without bad reproductive consequences, so to speak, but it does lower the status of man by moving him away from God and toward the fallen world. It is the gravest insult to the Creator, and thus it is not tolerated.) I should mention that I was raised a Methodist in Georgia. I recall these biblical passages not in order to challenge the Christian faith in any way but simply to underline the heritage of our culture regarding the nature and status of animals. Besides, our other major cultural influence, the philosophical tradition originating in ancient Greece, was also adamant about the status of animals. Some Greek philosophers did hypothesize something very like a "mind" for wild beasts, but Aristotle was the most important of the philosophers in this field, and for Aristotle man was the only creature possessed of reason, consciousness, and a soul. According to the indispensable Oxford Companion to Animal Behaviour , the great thinker discussed, to one degree or another, 540 different species of animals in his writings. He was the first great naturalist, and his ideas about the natural world were the most important from any source for fully fifteen hundred years. As we shall see, Aristotle had some modern-sounding ideas on this subject, but he could also be amazingly uninformed and naive. He apparently accepted at face value the fable that the mother bear literally licks her progeny into the proper bearlike shape. Certainly the philosopher who rationalized human slavery had no illusions about any concept of "animal rights" as entertained by many of us over two millennia later. Excerpted from Inside the Animal Mind: A Groundbreaking Exploration of Animal Intelligence by George Page All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.