Humans like to think of themselves as the superior creatures of the world. After all, humans can thrive in communities, make decisions, work together to achieve an end goal and play together. Humans feel too, they get happy, get sad, get angry, get upset. And humans can learn, they have even mastered the ability to solve problems and create tools. They really are something rather special aren’t they? But wait…animals can do all of that too! So are humans and animals really that different or are we much more alike than we think…
This over-sized book cleverly explores all of the ways that animals are very much like humans. Divided into three sections: Community, Feelings and Intelligence, each topic is explored through various sub-sections. There are a wide range of excellent examples that make connections between the behaviour of humans and animals.
Many animals display community traits: from fish working as farmers to bees voting on the location of the next place to find food, city-building termites to ravens who enjoy some downtime by rolling down snowy hills. Emotional displays comes from ecstatic Marconi penguins when they see their mate, an African grey parrot with a very special connection with its scientist human and elephants mourning the loss of one of their own. And then there are the particularly intelligent animals: chimpanzees, elephants and dolphins recognising themselves in a mirror, chickens that talk to each other, badly behaving birds, dolphins using tools and crafty crows using cars to crack nuts.
Christopher Lloyd uses over thirty animals to make his point that animals and humans are closely connected. His text is well written and informative, explaining the various behaviours of different animals and often making reference to scientific studies and particular observations by scientists. Mark Ruffle’s illustrations are bold and colourful. Animals are portrayed in simplistic versions of their natural environment or against neutral backgrounds. Back-matter includes a glossary and a portrait gallery with accompanying short profiles of fifteen scientists who have contributed to the study of animals and their behaviours.
A lovely read and proof that the attributes that many believe separate humans from animals are not what makes us different but are actually what makes us all very much alike. To use Christopher Lloyd's phrase, we are all ‘humanimal’.
Recommended for 8+.