I just love how science is chipping away at human uniqueness. This time it is this Science New’s report, He’s no rat, he’s my brother. This bit of research speaks for itself, so I won’t bore you or myself with reiterating the obvious.
Of course, I can’t leave without saying how confounding it is that humanity is so driven to elevate itself as the “superior species” capable of love, empathy, awareness, spirituality (whatever that is), and ___( you name it)___. We are certainly different in many ways from other species, but only superficially….not fundamentally.
From the symptom’s point of view, I would have to say that it is our insecurity and sense of disconnection that drives us to puff-up ourselves like we do. Being a thinking animal, we puff-up our species’ ego cognitively, where as a gorilla with its big hands and chest just puffs-up by beating on its chest. Isn’t it marvelous how similar things really appear when you see beyond the blind spot?
Below are a few pithy excerpts from the article when the link to the Science News article (above) fails to work.
Calling someone a rat should no longer be considered an insult. The often-maligned rodents go out of their way to liberate a trapped friend, a gregarious display that’s driven by empathy, researchers conclude in the Dec. 9 Science.
“As humans, we tend sometimes to have this feeling that there’s something special about our morals,” says neuroscientist Christian Keysers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam, who was not involved in the study. “It seems that even rats have this urge to help.”
Initially, the free rat would circle the cage, digging and biting at it. After about seven days of encountering its trapped friend, the roaming rat learned how to open the cage and liberate the trapped rat. “It’s very obvious that it is intentional,” Bartal says. “They walk right up to the door and open the door.” The liberation is followed by a frenzy of excited running.
“If I open the door, that rat’s distress goes away and my distress goes away,” psychologist Matthew Campbell of Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta, who studies empathy in chimpanzees. “They are affected by what the other is experiencing, and that alone is remarkable.”
To push the limits of the rats’ goodwill, Bartal and her team pitted a trapped rat against trapped chocolate, forcing a rat to choose which one to release. “These rats adore their chocolate,” she says. The results astonished Bartal: The rats were equally likely to free a rat in distress as they were to free the sweets. To a rat, a fellow rodent’s freedom was just as sweet as five chocolate chips.
And the niceness doesn’t stop there: “The most shocking thing is they left some of the chocolate for the other rat,” Bartal says. The hero rat left a chocolate chip or two for its newly free associate in more than half of the trials. On purpose. “It’s not like they missed a chocolate,” Bartal says. “They actually carried it out of the restrainer sometimes but did not eat it.”