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Thread: Emotion: Does It Define Mammals?

  1. #1 Emotion: Does It Define Mammals? 
    Forum Freshman Beyondthought's Avatar
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    Emotion. Its an interesting characteristic that for centuries was thought to indicate a 'soul' or help us better define who we were and how we differ from all the other animals on this amazing planet of ours. Advances in zoology have shed new light on this sometimes confusing subject. We now know that many other animals display human like emotions, most notable in our primape cousins. Although we can see these same emotions in other animals such as lions and dogs, horses and bears, elephants and even in whales. Although, as far as we can tell, emotion does not seem to exist in other species such as reptiles and avi. My question is, does emotion define us mammals?


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    has lost interest seagypsy's Avatar
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    Fear and agitation are both emotions that birds and reptiles both display. They are more primitive but still emotions. From my own observations alone, I would think birds also express contentment if not actual joy as well as depression. I had a pet parakeet that I allowed to have quite a bit of freedom. I never clipped his wings and while the kids were at school and the husband at work, I allowed him free roam to the house. He could fly anywhere he wanted but he tended to stay in the same room I was in at all times. He obviously had an attachment to me. And when I alerted him that it was time for the kids to come home he willfully returned to his cage. I became bedridden during pregnancy however and I was the only one willing to tend to him and so I had to give him away. The friend I gave him to immediately had his wings clipped and he died within a couple of weeks. The vet said nothing was wrong with him. And suggested he died of a broken heart. I realize that wasn't exactly a scientific analysis but having your ability to fly taken away as well as losing someone you had come to depend on for everything could send you into a deep depression. They said he never sang in their home. But he sang constantly in mine.

    He definitely displayed a change in behavior consistent with the appearance of the onset of depression in humans.


    Speaking badly about people after they are gone and jumping on the bash the band wagon must do very well for a low self-esteem.
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    Forum Freshman Beyondthought's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seagypsy View Post
    From my own observations alone, I would think birds also express contentment if not actual joy as well as depression.
    Sometimes I myself forget how many different emotions there are out their. My thought in the original post was trying to determine if emotions such as love and attachment existed in the other species, such as avi, although more so in the wild. My grandmother had a parakeet as well. That little thing really did seem to have an attachment to her. Always sang when she came in the room. I wonder though, if these attachments and emotions are triggered more so in pets because we are taking care of them. Perhaps they are receiving ques from us? and are learning our emotions?

    I lived for a while in a coastal town where there were lots of wild sea birds; mainly a large pelican population. The Birds stayed away from the marina that was in town, spending most of their time in the more secluded beaches which were more rocky. I myself like exploring these types of areas and began to watch these majestic creatures. They would group together, and even sometimes appear to be fighting with each other over perches, although I never really observed attachment or friendship like ques from them. None of the birds seemed to favor one over the other (but then again they all look identical it was hard to tell).

    Here's one Pelican which was not camera shy. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=232905396739729&set=a.2329046534064 70.61867.100000608112576&type=3&theater

    And even mothers did not appear to be overly attached to their young. Of course they were protective. But I witnessed on a few sad occasions that a young would fall out of the nest and the mother bird (while attempted to save it) did not appear devastated by the loss. Now perhaps she was. I am basing this observation off the why other mammals like gorillas or even lions act when their young are killed. They seem devastated. Sometimes they even guard or carry their dead young with them for several days afterwards.
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    Anyone who works with captive parrots can attest to sadness and depression after a cagemate or owner passes away. So no mammals are not the only animals that have emotions
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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  6. #5  
    has lost interest seagypsy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beyondthought View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by seagypsy View Post
    From my own observations alone, I would think birds also express contentment if not actual joy as well as depression.
    Sometimes I myself forget how many different emotions there are out their. My thought in the original post was trying to determine if emotions such as love and attachment existed in the other species, such as avi, although more so in the wild. My grandmother had a parakeet as well. That little thing really did seem to have an attachment to her. Always sang when she came in the room. I wonder though, if these attachments and emotions are triggered more so in pets because we are taking care of them. Perhaps they are receiving ques from us? and are learning our emotions?
    The behaviors exhibited by others is often what triggers emotions in humans as well. If a person takes care of you and shows genuine concern for your well being would you not develop some sort of attachment to them over time? If they are abusive towards you would not develop disdain for them? Emotions are more cognitive biological responses to stimuli rather than hormonal. Sexual arousal is not an emotion but love is. We may get aroused by the presence of pheromones but pheromones alone will not usually trigger the development of love.

    We would likely develop an emotional attachment to any one or anything that becomes a symbol of safety and protection. That something may be a pet that saved their life or the childhood home where they have many happy memories. They would likely spend a lot of money to care for the dog if it fell ill or would do all they could to preserve the old home. At the same time, if a dog has bitten them or the childhood home was volatile and they suffered much abuse there, they would likely abandon or kill the dog if whether it fell ill or not, and the home they may go out of the way to have it demolished.





    Quote Originally Posted by Beyondthought View Post
    I lived for a while in a coastal town where there were lots of wild sea birds; mainly a large pelican population. The Birds stayed away from the marina that was in town, spending most of their time in the more secluded beaches which were more rocky. I myself like exploring these types of areas and began to watch these majestic creatures. They would group together, and even sometimes appear to be fighting with each other over perches, although I never really observed attachment or friendship like ques from them. None of the birds seemed to favor one over the other (but then again they all look identical it was hard to tell).

    Here's one Pelican which was not camera shy. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=232905396739729&set=a.2329046534064 70.61867.100000608112576&type=3&theater

    And even mothers did not appear to be overly attached to their young. Of course they were protective. But I witnessed on a few sad occasions that a young would fall out of the nest and the mother bird (while attempted to save it) did not appear devastated by the loss. Now perhaps she was. I am basing this observation off the why other mammals like gorillas or even lions act when their young are killed. They seem devastated. Sometimes they even guard or carry their dead young with them for several days afterwards.
    It may just be that the expression of emotion is displayed quite differently than with us. If you aren't able to single out a particular bird to be able to observe it over a long term, you may not be able to determine its normal behaviors vs its abnormal behaviors.

    Their eyes are not as expressive and having beaks rather than lips they can't exactly grimace or smile. I would suspect that they would vocalize their distress. It may be a subtle change in tone or pitch of their song. Or it may be a change in frequency of vocalization. But there is also the issue that they do not carry their young inside their bodies during gestation. To them the urge to protect the egg may be more instinctual than affectionate. But once the babies are there they do attach to them. Another thing to consider is the survival rate of avian young as well as the breeding frequency of birds and how long it takes the young to mature. Penguins for instance, have to exert a lot of effort in raising young compared to other birds and they usually only lay one egg at a time. They will anguish over the loss of young, or even the inability to have their own. Going so far as to steal the eggs of other penguin couples in order to have a baby of their own. Gay penguin couple adopts chick

    We, as well as elephants, must invest a huge amount of time in gestating and raising our young. Where most birds lay several eggs at once anticipating that maybe one will survive. And the young develop relatively quick compared to mammals. They don't really have time to attach to the young. Human males often don't start to develop a strong attachment to their children until the day the baby is born. Until the baby is born it is more a source of anxiety and worry. They may not even have a certainty the child is their own until they see their own features on its face. There is that old expression "Mamma's baby, Daddy's maybe." This uncertainty is less of course if the relationship with the mother is a happy and healthy one. In which case the father would reasonably have the same attachment from the moment of conception. Perhaps even before conception if the child is very planned.
    Speaking badly about people after they are gone and jumping on the bash the band wagon must do very well for a low self-esteem.
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  7. #6  
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    How does one decide when an animal is having an emotion? For example, do hornets really get mad?
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    has lost interest seagypsy's Avatar
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    How does one decide when a human is having an emotion?
    Speaking badly about people after they are gone and jumping on the bash the band wagon must do very well for a low self-esteem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    How does one decide when an animal is having an emotion? For example, do hornets really get mad?
    Observation and testing. It's not that difficult. It's as if some people assume that since animals do not speak in our language to confirm the evidence, that it's not conclusive.
    Yet, you do not need to speak for someone to see, clearly that you're angry, or happy or agitated. The observations are accurate, without your spoken words.
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    AI's Have More Fun Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    How does one decide when an animal is having an emotion? For example, do hornets really get mad?
    If you have a few dozen hornets stinging the crap out of you, I think characterizing them as mad seems reasonable. As it is something we humans understand. Obviously they don't have the same physiology as we do, but their response when disturbed resembles a group of mad hornets.
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    Quote Originally Posted by seagypsy View Post
    How does one decide when a human is having an emotion?
    Damned if I know.
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  12. #11  
    has lost interest seagypsy's Avatar
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    There is as much evidence that animals have emotions as there is that humans (just another species of animals) have emotions. Do we all share the same emotional range and complexity, probably not but I am not aware of whether or not that has been determined. But even human emotions can be reduced to nothing more than a pattern of neurological activity in the brain indicating a response to outside stimuli.
    Speaking badly about people after they are gone and jumping on the bash the band wagon must do very well for a low self-esteem.
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    I realise that this anecdote indicates intelligence more than it does emotion. But I like telling it anyway.

    Two families lived across the road from us when I was a kid and they were very friendly, always in and out of each other's houses. One of them had a parrot - it lived on the tankstand as they were inclined to do back then. It was common practice for the two women to have morning or afternoon tea together - go out the back, call across the fence, talk, organise who had cake, scones or biscuits (cookies to the USAnians).

    Unfortunately, like most parrots, this one was a superb mimic. He would call out the neighbour's name, exactly imitating the owner's voice along with the slightly musical tone that went with the name. Neighbour would rush out her back door, over to the fence, saying "Yes, Rhonda?" (Names have been changed to protect the no longer with us.)

    And the parrot laughed himself silly.

    He didn't do it every day. Maybe once a week or so. She kept on answering the call. He kept on laughing.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    I had a friend who's parents own a pet store and they had a huge macaw that was not for sale, but display only. He was the in-store entertainment. He was also the store security system. He had a cage but was allowed to move about as he pleased. He could hold a conversation with you, do math, and crack jokes. But his best trick was preventing shoplifting. If you had a handful of items, all your own except one thing, he would hustle you down and make you empty your pockets until you presented the store item you shoved in your pocket. He was amazing. He knew if you had paid for it too.. so like if you paid for it and then reentered the shopping area and put it back in your pocket where he could see, he knew it was paid for and said nothing.

    I am sure there was something going on behind the scenes but I was 13 at the time and did not think to ask if they marked items in some way or if birds could hear subsonic alarms or what. But his basic addition and subtraction skills were amazing and his jokes were not repetitive. Though a bit risque at times.
    Speaking badly about people after they are gone and jumping on the bash the band wagon must do very well for a low self-esteem.
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    Though a bit risque at times.
    My singing teacher's parents were very conscientious catholics. Fed the nuns at the school so they wouldn't starve during school holidays and that sort of thing. Somehow or other they acquired a mature parrot kept on the back verandah. Which was pretty OK .... but. They had to try to persuade the priest to use the front door when visiting (don't know about the USA, but here it always used to be the back door for neighbours and friends).

    The parrot had spent the first 20 years of its life, learning language and other "skills", in a boarding house used by vaudeville entertainers.

    The priest kept on using the back door. Also kept on being horrified by the obscene, blasphemous, insulting humour of the parrot. I think they gave it away in the end. It certainly wasn't there when I went for lessons, and parrots live for a very long time.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    Birds and crocodiles produce hormones similar to oxytocin
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Though a bit risque at times.
    My singing teacher's parents were very conscientious catholics. Fed the nuns at the school so they wouldn't starve during school holidays and that sort of thing. Somehow or other they acquired a mature parrot kept on the back verandah. Which was pretty OK .... but. They had to try to persuade the priest to use the front door when visiting (don't know about the USA, but here it always used to be the back door for neighbours and friends).

    The parrot had spent the first 20 years of its life, learning language and other "skills", in a boarding house used by vaudeville entertainers.

    The priest kept on using the back door. Also kept on being horrified by the obscene, blasphemous, insulting humour of the parrot. I think they gave it away in the end. It certainly wasn't there when I went for lessons, and parrots live for a very long time.
    I've heard that some parrots live for 60 years. It must be quite traumatic for the parrot to out live it's owner, yet many of them outlive more than one owner. I'd rather get rid of the priest than the bird.
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