violence, by Temple Grandin: People
who love animals often think of animals as being aggressive but not violent.
Only humans, theyíll tell you, commit rapes, murders, or wage wars. But
that turns out not to be true. Some chimpanzees actually fight what Jaak
Panksepp calls mini-wars. This is organized, violent behavior. Two
groups of males from rival troops will meet at the border between their
territories and fight. So many chimpanzees die in these mini-wars that in
a lot of places the ratio of adult females to males is two to one.
a bottlenose dolphin belonging to Commander Task Unit 55.4.3,
leaps out of the water in front of Sgt. Andrew Garrett on
mineclearance operation in the Persian Gulf. Attached to the
dolphin's pectoral fin is a locator beacon.
Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Brien Aho; Mar 18,
Many animals can be horrifically violent for
no reason, it seems, other that the sheer desire to kill and maybe
even to torture. It took many, many years for people to finally
realize that dolphins, for instance, arenít benign, perpetually
smiling sea creatures they look like to us. Instead, dolphins are
big-brained animals who commit gang rape, brutal killing of
dolphin "children", and the mass murder of porpoises.
[...] With dolphins, researches have pretty much reached the
conclusion that much of the killing they do serves no evolutionary
purpose. Dolphins will slaughter hundreds of porpoises at a time.
The only imaginable evolutionary reason for this would be if
porpoises compete with dolphins for the same scarce resources,
like food. But they donít. Porpoises eat different food than
dolphins do. Killing a porpoise doesnít increase a dolphinís
chances of surviving and reproducing in any way. The only
conclusion is that dolphins kill porpoises because they want to.
I donít know why animal violence happens,
but when I read through the research literature Iím stuck by the
fact that animals with the most complex brains are also the ones
who engage in some of the nastiest behavior. I suspect people and
animals probably pay a price for having a complex brain. For one
thing, in a complex brain there may be more opprtunities for
wiring mistakes that will lead to vicious behavior. Another
possibility is that since a more complex brain provides greater
flexibility of behaviors, animals with complex brains become free
to develop new behaviors that will be good, bad, or in between.
Human beings are capable of great love and sacrifice, but they are
also capable of profound cruelty. Maybe animals are, too.
Grandin and Catherine Johnson: Animals in translation,
Simon&Schuster, New York, 2005.