We humans tend to be a little full of ourselves. We think we are special and that we are separate from the many other types of animals with which we share the planet.
Sure, we can do things like build skyscrapers and send people to space, but we are not as different from other animals as we may think. When we look at their behavior, we often see animal characteristics that seem very human. In fact, it could be argued that these are animal traits in humans instead of the other way around.
In this post, we are going to look at some animal character traits that show us that they are more like us than many of us know.
Humans say a lot with our body language. In many cases, the point of a verbal statement might not make sense if not for the accompanying gestures. One thing that is clear is that many animals use different types of body language to communicate.
For many animals, body language is simple. A change in posture can indicate that an animal is uneasy or excited. However, when you look at our fellow primates, you see body language and gestures that are much more like our own. Animals like chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and monkeys have all been observed using different gestures to communicate.
Culture is one thing most people would assume to be uniquely human. We create music, write poetry, practice religion and adhere to fashion trends. These are parts of culture, but they are not everything. Culture is simply the characteristics of a group and a way of living that is shared among those in the group. It might not be as sophisticated in other animals, but culture is there.
Take orcas for example. You have resident orcas, which tend to stick to the same waters and transient orcas that tend to travel farther. But those are not the only differences. Though they often share the same waters and commonly interbreed, they have very different ways of living. They hunt differently, have different diets and they have different social structures.
Humans love their tools. Even those of us who do not consider ourselves to be tool people use tools all the time. If you have picked up a knife and fork, you are a tool user. Tool use is another one of the animal traits that make animals more like us.
One obvious example is chimpanzees using rocks to crack open nuts. You also have some crows that are known to create little spears and hooks out of twigs. They then use these tools to help them eat grubs. If birds are making tools, you can see that it is an animal trait that is not even unique to primates.
Emotions help us connect with each other and they help us navigate the varied circumstances that we encounter throughout our lives. If you think animals can’t experience emotions, you would be wrong. Many animal species have deep emotional experiences.
Chimpanzees and other primates have been observed to hop with excitement when something amazes or surprises them. We have also seen some species that have funeral behaviors and grief associated with the death of an animal they care about. There have also been instances in which chimpanzees and baboons have taken revenge when they felt they have been wronged.
Humans theorize about moral codes and we make laws to uphold different ideas of morality. While animals might not be able to codify their morals or enforce them by way of law, many species have shown that they have ideas about fairness and right and wrong.
In some studies, chimpanzees have been shown to prefer sharing food over keeping it all for themselves. Even rats have been shown to exhibit moral behaviors. In one study, rats were given the option to open a container with chocolate or one that appeared to hold another rat in distress. Given the choice, most rats will choose to free the other rat before going to the container with chocolate.
These are just a few examples of animal traits that are similar to human traits. When you look at it all, you see that animals are more like us than many of us realize. Many of them have morals, care about each other and some even share culture.