How Animals See Themselves — by Ed Yong

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Welles
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How Animals See Themselves — by Ed Yong

Post by Welles » Thu Jun 23, 2022 4:32 pm

Nature shows have always prized the dramatic: David Attenborough himself once told me, after filming a series on reptiles and amphibians, frogs “really don’t do very much until they breed, and snakes don’t do very much until they kill.” Such thinking has now become all-consuming, and nature’s dramas have become melodramas. The result is a subtle form of anthropomorphism, in which animals are of interest only if they satisfy familiar human tropes of violence, sex, companionship and perseverance. They’re worth viewing only when we’re secretly viewing a reflection of ourselves.

We could, instead, try to view them through their own eyes. In 1909, the biologist Jakob von Uexküll noted that every animal exists in its own unique perceptual world — a smorgasbord of sights, smells, sounds and textures that it can sense but that other species might not. These stimuli defined what von Uexküll called the Umwelt — an animal’s bespoke sliver of reality. A tick’s Umwelt is limited to the touch of hair, the odor that emanates from skin and the heat of warm blood. A human’s Umwelt is far wider but doesn’t include the electric fields that sharks and platypuses are privy to, the infrared radiation that rattlesnakes and vampire bats track or the ultraviolet light that most sighted animals can see.

The Umwelt concept is one of the most profound and beautiful in biology. It tells us that the all-encompassing nature of our subjective experience is an illusion, and that we sense just a small fraction of what there is to sense. It hints at flickers of the magnificent in the mundane, and the extraordinary in the ordinary. And it is almost antidramatic: It reveals that frogs, snakes, ticks and other animals can be doing extraordinary things even when they seem to be doing nothing at all.
I was fascinated by this somewhat lengthy article.

How Animals See Themselves — by Ed Yong

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/20/opin ... elves.html


:?:
:idea:
:o

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Re: How Animals See Themselves — by Ed Yong

Post by Sandy » Fri Jun 24, 2022 2:45 pm

That has me thinking Welles. This may be a little long but very much worth the read.
It sort of fills me with a new sense of wonder even as I contemplate the strange nameless insect I am watching crawl across the window pane. What is he or she experiencing as I watch?

Thank you. :sunflower:
xxSandy
“And at the end of the day, my friends, even if it is a long day, and this is a long day, love wins. Always.”
~Governor Andrew Cuomo~

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Re: How Animals See Themselves — by Ed Yong

Post by Welles » Fri Jun 24, 2022 4:32 pm

That was my response too, Sandy. I took the time to actually think about the lives of things I could do without, ticks, mosquitos, rats and mice, poison oak etc.

:duh :bana: :duh :bana: :duh

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Re: How Animals See Themselves — by Ed Yong

Post by Sandy » Mon Jun 27, 2022 7:55 pm

Hi Welles,

I felt what you were describing too after reading the book you recommended to me years ago, "Kinship with All Life" by J Allen Boone. It sort of changed me and I noticed almost immediately I didn't look at insects the same old way. Strangely, they seemed to treat me a bit differently as well...
To this day I cannot kill a fly. LOL It is catch and release for me. :D

xxSandy
“And at the end of the day, my friends, even if it is a long day, and this is a long day, love wins. Always.”
~Governor Andrew Cuomo~

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