|MadSci Network: Zoology|
Dear Jun, Experiments showing that animals feel emotions similar to humans is more difficult than you might think. The reason is that emotions aren't something you can observe in others. There is no sure fire way of "seeing" if certain emotions like love exist in animals. However, we can observe animal behavior that might indicate underlying emotions, and several studies have shown this. The best way to go about answering your question would be to think about it in an evolutionary context. That is, emotions play significant roles in helping a species function well and survive. In humans, love serves to bring us closer together and to cooperate with each other. This function is way more vital in certain species like humans and other mammals because we depend greatly on each other for survival. This concept is emphasized in the familiar phrase "man is a social animal." From this logic, it follows that any species that requires social interaction is also capable of "love," or something like it anyway. This is particularly true in the mother-offspring relationship that is blatantly evident in all mammals. In fact, it seems like a type of love that just "kicks in" instinctively. However, there might be a few key features that distinguish between animal "love" and human "love". When we talk about love between two people, for example, we usually think about romance. This is something that most animals probably don't experience. Romantic love involves such things as intimacy (sharing and communicating feelings), creativity (writing poems, bringing home flowers, etc.), and respect for each others needs. Animal love is more like enjoying each other's company, and so without any desire for intimacy, creativity or respect may not be present. Gibran
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