There were two magpies outside earlier today beneath my window and I could hear them communicating with each other. And it struck me what a complicated language they seem to have, it was almost like they were talking like humans do. Magpies are smart birds, apparently they are one of the few animals that can recognise themselves in a mirror. I like magpies. I like all birds really, I think it is the wonderful otherness of birds mixed with the things we seem to share in common with them that draws me to them. They are dinosaurs, who went down a different evolutionary tree than mammals (we split from each other at the reptiles), yet although different from one another our brains seem to work in a similar way.
It seems to me many animals communicate with one another. Some animals such as wolves that work as a team must have pretty good communication to be able to organise themselves the way they do when hunting. I remember also hearing a story about how elephants visit graveyards and hold the bones of their ancestors in their trunks. That shows a sense of family, of knowledge of the past and sentimentality perhaps.
I think animals are much smarter and much more conscious than many humans give them credit for. They are a lot like us really, which makes sense because many of them share the same basic nervous system we do. Everything since the jellyfish and sea anenomes has the same neuron design, except maybe cephalopods who have a more complex nervous system than we have. We humans apparently share much of our DNA with fruit flies.
The arrogant disregard some people can have towards other species of life annoys me. Many humans seem to assume that just because other animals can't talk in our language they are just stupid mindless beasts. Animals are treated as inferior in our human world, with no voice or rights. Yet our civilisation has such an impact on them, on their homes, on their survival. I think humans need to evolve beyond these ways of thinking and develop a new way of thinking, so we can build a better civilisation that can work with the eco-systems around us instead of against them. If we want to survive we need to let go of the 'dog-eat-dog' mentality and become a more altruistic species. We need to realise that our actions in this world effect the other life we share this planet with; and our civilisation should not be just for our benefit, but for the benefit of all.
It could be that there are some animals who are much smarter than homo sapiens; who may yet prove it by outliving us in the end. Will they remember us as they hunt and play in the ruins of our once great cities.
Overall, well said. We really should respect other life forms. They are, after all, our distant cousins as the DNA record shows.
However, I wouldn't call bacteria smart, but as species they are likely to outlive all other lifeforms whatever happens to this planet.
But I suppose it depends on what you mean by "smart".