Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Empathy... something to learn from rats

Seems rats deserve a great deal more respect that we give them according to a Washington Post article, "You dirty rat? Experiments show rats aren't selfish, but caring creatures." It turns out that when a rat observes a peer in a crowded cage it works diligently to free it, often even denying themselves chocolate before aiding their fellow rat.

Pair of Mallard ducks
I observed some Mallard ducks in a creek while on a walk today.  It seemed like this pair of males were inseparable.  They swam together, almost in a synchronized formation. Certainly did appear from my casual observation that they were there for each other. On a recent road trip to Michigan I observed thousands of Canada Geese in their V formations. They know about the advantage of flying together in formation to reduce wind resistance.

In the U.S. we hear so often of principle of the "survival of the fittest". Seems that many of our furry and feathered friends know how to work cooperatively together. They even form symbiotic relationships between species.

The rat study author, Peggy Mason, from the University of Chicago quipped that if rats can be so caring and helpful “there’s a sense of optimism. It’s something we could be.”

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