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quarta-feira, janeiro 23, 2008

Animais políticos são pessoas?


Da Wikipedia: Elephants are symbols of wisdom in Asian cultures, and are famed for their memory and high intelligence, and are thought to be on par with cetaceans[5] and hominids[6]. Aristotle once said the elephant was "the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind."


"Man is by nature a political animal". Aristotle


Do NYT:


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Among elephants, it is the females who are the born politicians, cultivating robust and lifelong social ties with at least 100 other elephants, a task made easier by their power to communicate infrasonically across miles of savanna floor.

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Wherever animals must pool their talents and numbers into cohesive social groups, scientists said, the better to protect against predators, defend or enlarge choice real estate or acquire mates, the stage will be set for the appearance of political skills — the ability to please and placate, manipulate and intimidate, trade favors and scratch backs or, better yet, pluck those backs free of botflies and ticks.
Over time, the demands of a social animal’s social life may come to swamp all other selective pressures in the environment, possibly serving as the dominant spur for the evolution of ever-bigger vote-tracking brains. And though we humans may vaguely disapprove of our political impulses and harbor “Fountainhead” fantasies of pulling free in full glory from the nattering tribe, in fact for us and other highly social species there is no turning back. A lone wolf is a weak wolf, a failure, with no chance it will thrive.


Dario Maestripieri, a primatologist at the University of Chicago, has observed a similar dilemma in humans and the rhesus monkeys he studies.
“The paradox of a highly social species like rhesus monkeys and humans is that our complex sociality is the reason for our success, but it’s also the source of our greatest troubles,” he said. “Throughout human history, you see that the worst problems for people almost always come from other people, and it’s the same for the monkeys. You can put them anywhere, but their main problem is always going to be other rhesus monkeys.”


L'enfer, c'est les autres. Jean Paul Sartre
As Dr. Maestripieri sees it, rhesus monkeys embody the concept “Machiavellian” (and he accordingly named his recent popular book about the macaques “Macachiavellian Intelligence”).
“Individuals don’t fight for food, space or resources,” Dr. Maestripieri explained. “They fight for power.” With power and status, he added, “they’ll have control over everything else.”

(...)

Hal Whitehead of Dalhousie University and his colleagues have found surprising parallels between the elephant and another mammoth mammal, the sperm whale, possessor of the largest brain, in absolute terms, that the world has ever known.

As with elephants, the core social unit is a clan of some 10 or 12 females and their offspring. Sperm whales also are highly vocal. They communicate with one another using a Morse code-like pattern of clicks. Each clan, Dr. Whitehead said, has a distinctive click dialect that the members use to identify one another and that adults pass to the young. In other words, he said, “It looks like they have a form of culture.”
Nobody knows what the whales may have to click and clack about, but it could be a form of voting — time to stop here and synchronously dive down in search of deep water squid, now time to resurface, move on, dive again. Clans also seem to caucus on which males they like and will mate with more or less as a group and which ones they will collectively spurn. By all appearances, female sperm whales are terrible size queens. Over the generations, they have consistently voted in favor of enhanced male mass. Their dream candidate nowadays is some fellow named Moby, and he’s three times their size.

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