To What Extent to Humans Differ from Other Animals

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To What Extent to Humans Differ from Other Animals

By | March 2013
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To what extent can humans be considered distinct from other animals? Illustrate your answer with reference to material from at least two chapters of book 2.

This essay seeks to evaluate in what ways humans are distinct from other animals. It will examine to what extent we are different and indeed in what ways are we similar to other animals. It will look at how humans uniquely communicate, our shared evolutionary past and our similarities to other non-human animals. Important physical differences that have evolved in humans and the evolutionary benefits conveyed will also be discussed. Finally this essay will consider the importance of culture to our social and human development.

Communication is vital to the survival and development of both the human and animal worlds and has enabled both groups to successfully operate in their environments. To human beings, language is the most important aspect that sets us apart from animals. Yet animals also communicate with each other. To the human ear it may sound a mere noise, but to the animal a specific meaning is conveyed, (Troy Cooper & Ilona Roth, Challenging Psychological Issues, Open University, 2007, p74). Karl Von-Frisch (1950) carried out extensive research into how honey bees communicated the location of food to their co-worker bees by dancing a round, or a waggle dance. (Karl Von-Frisch as cited in Cooper et al, 2007, p76). Whilst Seyfarth et al researched Vervet Monkeys who warn each other with different alarm calls, when a predator is spotted, (Seyfarth et al as cited in Cooper et al, 2007, p76).

Several researchers have suggested that it is language design features that make human language different from that of sounds made by an animal. Hockett (1960) initially identified 13 design features, but this was later refined by Aitchison (1983), to 10 features, four of which were particular to humans (Cooper et al, 2007, p77). Aitchinson considered that semanticity, ie, each word having...
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