• Question: Are animal and human brains like each other? do animals brains vary in power?

    Asked by ellieelephant to Adam, Faye, Martin, Samantha on 23 May 2012.
    • Photo: Adam Bibbey

      Adam Bibbey answered on 23 May 2012:

      Hey ellieelephant,

      Another great question,

      The human brain is a very complex organ and today research is still continuing to figure out which parts of the brain control certain functions.

      Human brains are considered one of the most complex as we have a large range of functions e.g. being able to run, talk, feel emotions, and do all our school work.

      There are some similarities between the human brain and animals, is it believed that our brains are most closely related to the chimpanzee.

      You may be interested to know that apparently the cleverest animal is the chimpanzee. Chimpanzees have been shown to be able to learn sign language, complete memory tasks, and use stones to crack nuts open. It is believed they are so intelligent because they share 98% of the same DNA (genes) as humans.

      Hope this helps, if there are any more questions than just ask away ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Photo: Faye Didymus

      Faye Didymus answered on 26 May 2012:

      Hi ellieelephant! That’s a great question! ๐Ÿ™‚

      There are a number of things that the human brain can do that animal brains cant:

      * Humor: No other creature is able to appreciate, create and express humor. Not only does it require creativity, but humor also requires the ability to detach oneself from oneโ€™s surroundings to see the odd, surreal or ironic.

      * Appreciation of beauty: Humans are able to appreciate all kinds of beauty. This can be as simple as a sunset, a work of art, or the intricate design of a flower.

      * Self-consciousness: Beyond a simple recognition of self (as seen in a few animals), humans can step back and become a spectator, critic or admirer of the world around them.

      * Awareness of death: While animals have a survival instinct, humans are able to consider that we will one day die. Aware that our days will not last forever, we have a deep respect of mortality. In fact, nearly all cultures perform some form of funeral ritual. This is not found in the animal world.

      * Understanding time: Animals are only able to relate time to themselves; they have no ability of relating time to third parties. Humans can wonder, speculate and search the annals of history for lessons, and apply those lessons to goals far into the future.

      * Connections between words: While animals can understand simple words or tones, they do not comprehend syntax or communicate in complex sentences. Human beings can communicate in loads of different, complex languages.

      * Meaning of life: The simple act of asking about lifeโ€™s meaning and purpose makes man unique. No animal contemplates its reason for living, nor would it be willing to live or die for specific values and ideals.

      * Malleability: Humanity is able to adapt to its surroundings. We wear clothes, build shelters or modify our environment to suit our needs.

      * Lack of harmony with nature: When left to its own devices, nature will reach balance and harmony. Only man disrupts that natural balance: deforestation, changing the course of rivers, pollution, over mining for resources, etc.

      * A sense of morality: Animals always take the path of least resistance. They do not have a conscience or sense of right and wrong. On the other hand, mankind will go so far as to control his thoughts based on what he considers right or wrong.

      * Character: This is the ability to know right from wrong, and turn from the wrong and do what is right, even in the face of pressures and temptations. The desire to build character is only found in humans.

      * Free moral agency: Unlike animals, humans can deviate from their course of thinking and living however they see fit. Animals, on the other hand, react through instinct.

      * Capacity for wisdom: Without the ability to place themselves in time, animals are unable to weigh situations with previous experiences. While animals are able to develop behavioral patterns based on positive or negative stimulation, they are unable to analyze actions before they are performed. This ability, known as wisdom, is unique to humans.

      * Desire for worship: No matter what part of the world or their culture, humans exhibit a desire to seek, follow and worship a higher power. Animals do not!

      * Love: While some animals form lifelong relationships for the purpose of reproduction, none exhibit a parallel with the human characteristics of love, in which a couple shares experiences, goals, dreams, hopes and aspirations.

      In terms of the physical appearence of human and animal brains, they also differ in weight, anatomy, and the cerebral cortex.

      That’s a long answer but I hope it give you some food for thought! ๐Ÿ™‚