IV. The Pro-Accidental Animals and Humans
"No one can eliminate uncertainty in life."
A philosophical thought
Questions that will be considered:
How much do animals and humans have in common?
Accidental adaptability or evolution?
What is the role of science and religion ?
Humans and animals inhabit most of the dry land of our planet. How much they are alike has always been a puzzle for philosophers and scientists. For one thing, they all are in race for survival. I shall explore this subject briefly, and only to illustrate various challenging points through the perspective of Effectology.
The first Effectological point is that changes that happened on our planet were due to natural and necessary accidents. Because nothing can exist on its own, a recycling action of energy feeds every form of life. All life forms that we know of started with some kind of seed, the most amazing source of life energy. Plants, flowers, and trees grow from minuscule seeds. Animals and humans grow from equally minuscule eggs. All things that grow are carbon-based, carbon being the most important ingredient of life in the entire universe. In this regard, all living things are subject to universal laws.
Each living thing carries its own energy, which manifests differently according to its pre-programmed genetic inheritance. That energy finds more energy in its surroundings, which affect the way the new life develops. Basically, life generates more life, only to end up destroying life, because all living things are a part of the food chain. Each creature must eat or be eaten. The death of an animal is life-giving food for another. That is enough ground for all kinds of unexpected accidents in the living world.
Humans and mammals share the same basic DNA but at different levels of evolution. Nevertheless, they share the same bodily sensations received from the outer world, so their basic feelings like fear, hunger and pain must be alike. Humans have many behavioral traits in common with the animals. The most important is the self-preservation instinct and the territorial demand. The quest to eat and parenting are their main activities in life and the primary rules for surviving. Animals live to eat, to procreate, and to avoid danger. Humans do the same. In addition, humans live a purposeful or a goal-oriented life, with planned, functional activity in mind.
Common mental and bodily reactions are easy to identify in animals and humans. Both share the same basic instincts, such as: breathing, urges of eating and defecation, fear, inherited abilities to learn skills. Their facial expressions when experiencing anger or joy are strikingly similar. Both sense danger and run away from it, and both enjoy freedom. Caged humans and animals do not function normally and show the same disorderly habits.
Animals either live alone, in small groups, or in large herds. Just like humans, many animal species live in highly organized families or societies. Swans live in pairs; wolves and elephants stand out for their well structured families, caring for their young and old and sharing survival reflexes.
Just like humans, animals attract and reject one another, probably subjected to the same accidental "magnetism" and "attraction" laws. Even insects like bees display incredible social division of labor and productivity, and a precise hierarchy. It takes the collection of nectar from two million of flowers for bees to make a pint of honey. It is only fair to credit this insect with the existence of so many flowers, plants, and trees, which multiply because the extraordinary accident of pollination.
Unlike humans, animals never kill for revenge and never copulate within their own families. Animals have no remorse, because they do not experience the mental anguish of killing more than they need to in order to stay alive. Humans kill one another, but (for the most part!) eat only other animals.
Only mankind experiences regrets and cries about their destructive actions. Animals never hurt Mother Nature, as they do not pollute, deplete, or destroy the environment. Animals never forced humanity to leave their land, whereas the humanity's invasion of the animal kingdom has made countless species extinct.
Both humans and animals have the knowledge for survival, but animals are better equipped for it by nature. Compared to that of humans, animals' senses of smell, touch, hearing, day and night vision, and general awareness are crushingly superior. Their instincts for sensing approaching fires, floods or earthquakes are highly superior to that of humans. No animal will walk into quicksand. On the other hand, since primitive times, mankind's main hunting technique was to drive large animals over the edges of cliffs.
Animals adapt to adverse weather without the need of clothes, houses with climate control, or other protective gadgets. A person dies in matter of hours in environments that certain animals find to be heavenly. Once again, man's impact on the wild kingdom was impressive, when more than five thousand years ago he domesticated dogs, pigs, egg-laying birds, sheep, cows, and horses. Survival was the reason he adopted these wild animals: to provide an immediate and convenient source of food. Since then, animals become pro-accidental for humans, just because they existed.
Man induced accidents of enforced adaptation by using artificial selection, and much of the time by artificial insemination of different animals. A good example is the mix between the male donkey and female horse. The result is a mule, a stronger and more resistant hybrid than its parents. Farmers mixed different kinds of cows to create hybrids with the most milk or meat, and mixed horses to obtain the fastest or the most powerful, or even ponies. If we consider the canine families living in the wild versus those groomed by mankind, we will probably find the most diverse breeding effects.
By modifying the genes of wild animals, humans have created a large variety of pets of an equally amazing variety of sizes and shapes. Any animal show will provide a parade of most unusual cats and dogs, specially groomed to please imaginative pet lovers. Only reptiles could not be domesticated or artificially bred, and remained in their original shapes with the untouched primitive brain.
It is interesting to note another accident, this time with a reverse effect, exemplified by domesticated animals that have escaped from the mankind's control. Take the case of the dingo dog, which not only survived in the wild, but in Australia multiplied by the millions and became the most feared predator of sheep and kangaroos. Run-away domestic cats survive and multiply in the wild as well. On the western plains of America we see herds of mustangs, which were once domesticated horses that ran away from their masters. This small but sturdy horse became the symbol of the free wildlife, demonstrating no need for humans to take care of them. Donkeys of WWII vintage in Hawaii are now wild and well, just like the mustangs.
Ironically, the animals that escaped domestication seem to fight back against their onetime masters and avenge Mother Nature. In Australia, the colonists destroyed hundreds of millions of trees and many species of animals to make room for their grazing sheep. But the dingoes proliferated into so many strong herds that farmers were forced to build a 3,000 mile-long fence, twice as long as the Great Wall of China, to keep these formidable predators from attacking sheep. Elephants, tigers, bears, and other animals that were pushed away from their birth-places, also return to attack the intruders who now own those lands. Sadly, more tigers today live in cities than in the wild
Mother Nature herself seems to get mad at times and sends powerful storms over the once pristine, heavenly islands, or along most picturesque coasts, now riddled with housing developments. Ocean waves erode the precious beaches from the front porches of expensive villas, built where men should only pray to the beauty of nature. It is the vengeful effect of man-made accidents inflicted upon nature in the name of comfort and progress.
Animals live in perfect harmony with Mother Nature, which nourishes plants and trees to supply vital oxygen for all living things. Plants and trees are also active, living things, which grow, produce flowers and seeds, turn to follow the sun, reach for water with roots, and finally, die to provide compost for other vegetation. They all have one unsurpassed enemy: the ever-fragile but restlessly minded destructive humans.
Actually, humans are the most likely creatures to produce accidents against the world of greenery of than any other. Deforestation is to pristine jungles as plague is to humanity. But unlike the plague, which comes and goes, affecting only a part of a population, vanishing forests affect the lives of animals, changes the atmosphere, and of course, adversely affects the humans who produced the ecological disaster. For immediate gain, humans sell the futures of subsequent generations.
However, no creature has more impact on nature than the little and ignored beaver. In its urge to build a nest with underwater entrance in the middle of a lake, the beaver is able accomplish a Pharoahic task. Not only does he cut down trees along a river, but he forms them into a complicated barrage, building a dam and creating an artificial lake. Because of this monumental construction, the beaver changes nature, and imposes a different way of life on the landscape. It's an animal-made made accident of continental proportions.
Ironically enough, mankind still does not match the power of beaver, the most prolific landscape changer, or the power of the minuscule ant. Indeed, smaller creatures seem to make bigger changes in nature. Termites survived the cataclysms that made dinosaurs extinct, and for a good reason: to recycle the dead bodies of creatures and trees. By turning everything into a rich powder, they prevented massive and deadly contamination and provided the energy for the new plants and other forms of life to feed on.