Social animal

February 16, 2015

These days, animals from crows and jays to elephants and wild dogs and even the queens of social wasps are regarded as having social intelligence. "We see the same pattern wherever we look," said Sean O'Donnell, a behavioral ecologist at Drexel University who discovered that wasp queens, which are like colony managers, have significantly larger central processing regions in their brains than do the workers. "The demands of thinking socially lead the queens to have better developed brains."

This is from the fascinating book Animal Wise: The thoughts and emotions of our fellow creatures, by Virginia Morell, in a section that says social cognition is the reason for big brains, not inventiveness in creating and using tools. Naturally this applies to the human animal as well: Think how easy it is to see how small people's lives get when they aren't connected to others. Is the rugged individualist even a real thing?

I'm not even talking (yet again) about the social contract but about staying human. I love the feeling of being part of something much bigger than myself that I have learned to navigate & manipulate. Hello, everybody!