Has your dog ever looked at you with that knowing look as if she understands exactly how you feel? Have you ever compared your hand to that of a chimpanzee? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you probably already suspect that humans and animals are more alike than we are different.
But there are some even more surprising things that humans and animals have in common. These things will, perhaps, completely change how you look at all of our domestic and wild friends.
Pets are capable of feeling a range of different emotions just like humans. They could be excited and even jealous. Furthermore, dogs are capable of interpreting human facial expressions. The next time, your pup gets a little out of sorts with you for petting another dog, just know that he feels things deeply, too.
2. Using Tools
One of the things that make humans unique among animals is that we have evolved to be able to use the right tool for the job at hand. Yet, we’re not the only ones who can use tools. Chimpanzees, gorillas, and even crows have all been observed using tools. In fact, crows can even build specific tools out of parts and pieces.
3. Making Plans
Speaking of crows, they have also shown to have another human-like trait: they can plan for the future. One experiment showed ravens would choose the object that would, later, be exchanged for a treat over other objects. And they aren’t the only animal who can think ahead and anticipate their future needs. Many great apes are also able to delay immediate gratification.
4. Moral Reasoning
Some social animals have shown that they have a sense of morality or can tell right from wrong. One study showed that rhesus monkeys refused to take food, knowing that doing so would shock a different monkey. And some chimpanzees in captivity can even judge the morality of unknown humans, based on the human’s behavior.
While we are on the topic of chimpanzees, they have shown another similar behavior to humans: ritualistic behavior. They have been observed hitting a rock against the same tree and even placing collections of rocks inside hollow trees, which are behaviors that serve no practical purpose. Some scientists think that these ritualistic behaviors help us understand how our own religious evolution took place.
Although we often like to think we are unique creatures, some animals actually share similar internal characteristics, particularly in the ear.
The katydid is a type of insect that is found in Colombia, and the surprising thing about it is that its ears, including its eardrum, plate, and membranes, look like and function just like a human ear.
While we’re on the subject of similar internal traits, one strange similarity we have with our canine best friends is that we both have the same kind of microbes in our guts. Scientists believe that a similar flora in our guts is due to our long relationship with dogs.
8. Speech Patterns
Although humans are the only animals with complex written and spoken language, other animals do share our ability to create individual speech patterns and sounds. For example, white-handed gibbons use over 26 different sounds to communicate different things, such as warnings or admonishments. Japanese tits, which are a type of bird related to chickadees, use complex sounds or phrases to express themselves. They can even put together sounds, almost forming their version of sentences, too.
Just as humans have different accents depending on their regional location, animals can also have accents. It’s been observed that cows from various regions in England actually have moos that sound different. Even sperm whales and some bird species can have dialects or accents as well.
Although we don’t ever want to encourage the use of mind-altering substances, you’d be surprised to learn that some animals ingest substances solely for the hallucinogenic effect.
Dolphins have been observed playing with pufferfish and ingesting the toxin the fish releases as a defense mechanism. In low doses, this toxin creates a trance-like state for dolphins. Horses are also known to eat hallucinogenic weeds. In addition, elephants drink overripe, fermented fruits, and monkeys sometimes eat ethanol-rich fruit.
From what we feel to how we behave, humans and animals share a lot of surprising traits that remind us that we’re not so different from each other.