For most of the 20th century, animals weren’t allowed to have emotions. Your dog didn’t actually love you—it (and it was an “it” back then) was just a stimulus–response machine conditioned to act a specific way in a specific situation, says today’s Valentine edition of Wired Science. “Scientists who said otherwise—that animals actually had minds capable of thoughts and emotions—were accused of ‘anthropomorphizing’ and ridiculed by their peers. Even researchers as famous as chimp specialist Jane Goodall spent years sitting on evidence that animals could do more than just salivate at the sound of a bell.
‘But over time, that bias waned. Just consider the first sentence (and the title) of Virginia Morell’s new book, Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures: ‘Animals have minds.’
“’Not so long ago,’ she writes later, ‘I would have hedged these statements.’ After six years of reporting in 11 different countries, the longtime science journalist arrived at the same conclusion that scientists like Goodall have known for a long while: that animals feel. And strongly, it turns out.
“But how complex are these emotions? Fear and panic are one thing; but do animals lust, even love? We went to Morell for some answers. Animals might not celebrate Valentine’s Day, but their relationships still look a lot like ours.”