Sunday, April 4, 2010


After reading through the book, it appears that animals mate purely by selecting mates that will create "direct or indirect benefits" (Coyne 162). This makes animals sound emotionless and heartless, however, there have been evidence that question an animal's capacity for emotion. (see Source) Can animals truely experience emotion? State evidence, theories, or studies. If animals do indeed experience emotions like those we humans experience, what about love? Can animals "love" one another? Examine how socially monogamous animals pick their mates, and how truly monogamous they are, since Coyne does mention the promiscuity of even socially monogamous animals.

Why Evolution is True


  1. Emotion is a process in which many stimulation of the brain cause a reaction of the organism in certain situations. However, there are many battles in which people believe that animals have emotions and animals do not have emotions. In Coyne's book, Coyne seems to directly speak of altruism when he talks about benefits (162). Nonetheless, emotion is a cognitive process and thus being humans who do not completely understand the cognitive process of the brain, it is hard to completely assume that animals only act in a way that benefits them. For example, like it was stated in the prompt's article, there are elephants that act in a manner in which they care for their party member. Also there are few examples of human like emotions. One example is Nim. He was a chimpanzee that showed child-like emotions, though not as complex. Although this experiment was in order to find the animal language development, Nim, nonetheless, showed his cognitive process of emotion. Likewise, in monogamous situations, animals pick their mates according to the benefit he/she will receieve. This shows how some organism's species never mate. However, emotions can be seen in other situations such as protection.


    Jerry Coyne: Why Evolution is True

    Do animals have emotions?

    Niel Campbell and Jane Reece: Biology: AP Edition 8e

  2. Love itself is a vague word that escapes a specific definition. Many times, love comes with condition and in many forms. For example, like liondrummer stated, cognition (the most complex form of learning) may be experienced by young chimpanzees that may require problem solving. But on the other hand, like in the classic experiment Ivan Pavlov carried out relating to operant conditioning, perhaps animals respond to mating as a certain duty rather than overwhelming emotion that aides them in picking a mate. (Campbell 1128)
    But for many animals, coupled with their sense of duty, animals demonstrate emotion: such as with mothers caring for their young, or as liondrummer stated, those animals that live in a pack. For example, the leader (alpha male) may rely in pack instincts that tie in with certain emotional affections. Furthermore, as seen with dogs and their human owners, kinship and personal ties come into play. Even though animals may not feel the “love” that humans feel, in an abstract sense, they do feel emotions (perhaps even jealousy or hate). Even so, human love comes with obligations.

    Can animals "love" one another?
    Researchers have questioned the process of choosing mates in all mammals. According to one research, “all mammals, including dogs, have a "pleasure center" in their brains that is stimulated by dopamine, the chemical that regulates feelings of happiness. For example, when a dog is playing fetch, dopamine is released in the pleasure center and the dog is "happy."” Humans have similar neuron-sensing chemicals released during times of pleasure, so there may be a connection.
    According to Fred Metzger, a guest lecturer in animal sciences at Penn State and a State College veterinarian, "Dogs probably don't feel love in the typical way humans do. Dogs make investments in human beings because it works for them. They stand something to gain from putting so-called emotions out there. The more 'cute factor' they give us, the more we feel like they love us. This makes it more likely that we will give them more attention, food treats, outdoor access -- all based on how much of a show they put on for us." Metzger theorized that dogs "love" us as long as we continue to reward their tricks and antics with treats and attention.
    The idea that loyalty and love are connected underscores the reason why some animals are able to successfully travel in packs.
    Furthermore, take the behavior of dogs, they may “wag their tail” to signal their happy sentiment or “growl their teeth” to show anger and aggression.
    With that said, when choosing a mate, animals do not solely depend on their emotions (same as with humans). Mating behavior is a form of natural selection called sexual selection. In many species, mating is promiscuous (no strong pair-bonds or lasting relations); one important aspect in choosing a mate is the care of the young. For example, many birds are monogamous because a male needs to stay and help with caring for the newly-hatched birds; another factor is certainty of paternity. For the males of many species, they ensure a high certainty of paternity by engaging in certain behaviors such as guarding the female, etc. (Campbell 1135).
    This shows that for a majority of animals, a variety of factors come into play to ensure the survival of the offspring when choosing a mate: the male that is most fittest (agonistic behavior), colorful or ornamented males, selection based on mate-choice copying (like with the female guppy), and through social learning. (Campbell 1141)

    Therefore while animals do experience emotions, choosing a mate, like Coyne explains, depends on much more than love.

    Sources: Campbell book
    Jerry Coyne : Why Evolution is True

  3. Emotion hasn't been studied nearly as much as cognitive thinking in non-human animals. One style of studying emotions in animals is to examine the role of an emotion in human behavior and observe whether or not it has a similar function in non-human animals. Also one can apply Darwinian ideas to emotions and look at the benefit an organism's survival. For example, fear increases the organism's likeliness to move away from danger and to avoid similar events in the future. Another way of determining whether or not animals experience emotions is to compare their autonomic changes to humans when they change emotions, or to compare behavior. However, autonomic changes are hard to measure because they don't always change in humans (changing from fear to excitement on a rollercoaster). It is very hard to compare human's emotions to that of non-humans and to truly analyze whether or not emotions exist in non-human animals.
    Love is a particularly hard emotion to observe (similar to what Mary discussed). It is very unclear what our own perception of love is. There were these two malamutes being observed. They couldn't eat while in close proximity of each other and they would knock each other out of the way to get outside first. Then it was discovered that one had a malignant tumor in its leg. The other malamute became calm and subdued in her presence and never left her side. When the dog's leg was amputated, the other dog no longer played rough around her and only cared for her. Would this be considered love if it were two humans? It will never be clear whether or not humans believe that non-human animals can love, but in my opinion, most animals do have the capability to love.