A declaration on consciousness and intelligence in animals

by Wendy Wolfe on August 31, 2012

In all their brilliance, the scientists at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference at Churchill College, University of Cambridge declared on July 7, 2012 that non-human animals including all mammals, birds and some other creatures have consciousness. They went about it in their usual very scientific manner looking at behavior, neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. Here’s the full Declaration.

Well duh.

Granted it is a step in the right direction for science to acknowledge that animals, marine mammals, birds and other creatures are not merely biological machines but are self aware. But really, is it not obvious? Perhaps they never shared their lives with a cat, dog, bird or horse.

This idea of science determining who does or doesn’t have consciousness led me to another thought process. Humans have always considered the ability to use language as a marker of higher intelligence. When apes and chimpanzees began to use sign language they were elevated on the hierarchy of intelligence. But is language really a sign of higher intelligence?

Animals communicate telepathically and energetically. They can communicate from far away without cell phones or satellites. Birds can fly in the most incredibly synchronized patterns that humans could never duplicate. Many species migrate thousands of miles without a GPS returning year after year to the same place. And they never talk to each other. They don’t write books. They don’t blog. They just instantly know and understand each other. They sense the world through energy and communicate through the same dimension. There is no language barrier. There is just knowing. Humans come into the world with this same ability but we are not encouraged to develop our telepathic and energetic abilities. We are encouraged to talk. To become verbal. And that is where we begin to fall off the intelligence hierarchy (in my opinion).

Another marker we have attributed to higher intelligence is the use of tools. Scientists have noted that certain birds and animals use tools which elevates them on the intelligence hierarchy. Crows have been known to use tools as have apes and chimpanzees. I’ve witnessed cats, dogs, horses, goats and pigs manipulate their environment to get what they want. Not exactly tools but sort of.

Red has this little trick he does if he wants to get into the house when the patio door doesn’t get completely closed. He manages to push the door just an inch or two so that he can slip a paw in. He then grabs onto the rug on the inside of the door with his claws and pulls at it until it begins to come through the one inch and eventually he opens the door. I caught him on video one day. Enjoy this short show of intelligence, desire and consciousness.  Red’s Video (note: I couldn’t post the video on this blog so you will be linked to my facebook page.   Soon I will move my blog to my new website and then videos will not be a problem.)

Animals don’t use tools the way we humans do. They don’t make lots of products, build roads, structures, manipulate their environment or drive cars. But you know what? They don’t need to. They have learned to live in harmony with their environment and with the exception of where man has interfered, they do so without harm to themselves or the earth. There is a natural balance and order among the many species of earth when you exclude man.

Here’s my theory without a shred of scientific evidence to back it up. Animals are here to teach us how to be better humans. They are helping the evolution of the planet by guiding the misguided humans. They are the master teachers…we are the students. They learned long ago in their evolution how to “be”. How to work in concert with all other life, how to raise emotionally healthy offspring, how to care for the earth. They live in the present moment, they don’t take things personally and they love us unconditionally. To me, they are shining examples of consciousness.

What have animals taught you?

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laurie matson September 1, 2012 at 7:32 am

Those of us who share our lives with animals have known this all along! My cat Tiger rings a bell whenever he wants to go outside…sort of a reverse doorbell. He also figured out how to use the toilet, but not the flush part-but give him time! The family where I board my horses saw my fjord tip over the water trough then straddle it to use it to scratch his belly! It’s also amazing to watcb a group of horses to see all the communication and interaction that takes place with the swish of a tail or the flick of an ear…..minus the gossiping and backstabbing that humans engage in! The animals could teach humans a lot if we’d only listen!

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