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Similarities Between Nonhumans and Humans

Humans have justified their domination over other animals with statements like: we’re more intelligent, we are the only species that has language, uses tools, demonstrates affection outside of mating, or is self-aware. All of those justifications have been proven incorrect. The fact is, the more different we think we are (and the lesser we think they are), the easier it is to use and abuse them. After all, it’s not like they’re human.

One rather human trait many animals have is the ability to learn foreign languages, as in, the language of a different species. This week, we have more evidence for this language capacity in animals with a study that appears to have shown that nuthatches (a bird) understand the language of chickadees (a different species of bird).

How is this significant? The list of traits we believe are unique to us has been dwindling exponentially in the last decade. From the emotional lives of animals, to what goes on in their minds, to their experience of pleasure, we have discovered that we have fewer unique capabilities than we previously thought. Because similarity makes it difficult to continue to view a creature as one of "them," or, "other," reasons for treating nonhuman animals so hideously become offensive. And rationales for using them for our purposes at all seem tenuous.

I say, bring it on. I want to know as much about the lives of animals (outside of laboratories, and not because someone has manipulated them) as possible. The more we learn about the good, the bad and the ugly about other species, the less valid our reasons for using them become.

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