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2003-01-03 - 5:15 p.m.

I've been debating about the lines between human and animal with a friend lately. All joking aside, I believe those lines are a lot more blurred than most of us care to think. And there's decent evidence to back to me up. There's some circumstancial evidence that chimps may have language. Dogs can count. Oranguatangs have culture.

Why do people seem to be so determined to draw these sharp distinctions between themselves and the rest of life on the planet?

On the one hand, as far as we know, animals haven't created art. They don't have a Bach or a Mozart to boast of. We've sent Bach into space as an example of the best our species is capable of. But on the other hand, who's to say that the creatures which may eventually listen to those Bach recordings will view them any differently than we do humpback whale songs?

I agree we are certainly one of, if not the most complex forms of life on the planet. But that doesn't make other forms of life simplistic. It doesn't make them any less complex than they truly are.

I just wish people would show a little bit of respect for the rest of the planet.


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