The Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief, and Compassion—Surprising Observations of a Hidden World

Greystone Books Ltd
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The second book in The Mysteries of Nature Trilogy by the New York Times bestselling author of The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben. The third book, The Secret Wisdom of Nature, is coming in Spring 2019.

"Like The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben's The Inner Life of Animals will rock your world. Surprising, humbling, and filled with delight, this book shows us that animals think, feel and know in much the same way as we do--and that their lives are, to them, as precious as ours are to us."
—Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus

Through vivid stories of devoted pigs, two-timing magpies, and scheming roosters, The Inner Life of Animals weaves the latest scientific research into how animals interact with the world with Peter Wohlleben's personal experiences in forests and fields.

Horses feel shame, deer grieve, and goats discipline their kids. Ravens call their friends by name, rats regret bad choices, and butterflies choose the very best places for their children to grow up.

In this, his latest book, Peter Wohlleben follows the hugely successful The Hidden Life of Trees with insightful stories into the emotions, feelings, and intelligence of animals around us. Animals are different from us in ways that amaze us—and they are also much closer to us than we ever would have thought.

Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Institute.

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About the author

Peter Wohlleben is the author of the New York Times bestselling book The Hidden Life of Trees. He is a natural storyteller who writes on ecological themes. He manages a municipally owned, environmentally friendly woodland in Germany. When he is not writing books or caring for his trees, he looks after the family dog and his small collection of farm animals.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestsellers When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie about Love. He is fascinated by the richness of the emotional world of animals and by what animals can teach us about ourselves.

Jane Billinghurst’s career has been in book publishing in the UK, the US, and Canada, as an editor, publisher, writer, and translator. She is the translator of the international bestseller The Hidden Life of Trees by German forester Peter Wohlleben.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Greystone Books Ltd
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Published on
Nov 7, 2017
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781771643023
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Animals / General
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / Ethology (Animal Behavior)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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We commonly use the word "behaviour" with a wide range of meaning. We speak of the behaviour of troops in the field, of the prisoner at the bar, of a dandy in the ball-room. But the chemist and the physicist often speak of the behaviour of atoms and molecules, or that of a gas under changing conditions of temperature and pressure. The geologist tells us that a glacier behaves in many respects like a river, and discusses how the crust of the earth behaves under the stresses to which it is subjected. Weather-wise people comment on the behaviour of the mercury in a barometer as a storm approaches. Instances of a similar usage need not be multiplied. Frequently employed with a moral significance, the word is at least occasionally used in a wider and more comprehensive sense. When Mary, the nurse, returns with the little Miss Smiths from Master Brown's birthday party, she is narrowly questioned as to their behaviour; but meanwhile their father, the professor, has been discoursing to his students on the behaviour of iron filings in the magnetic field; and his son Jack, of H.M.S. Blunderer, entertains his elder sisters with a graphic description of the behaviour of a first-class battle-ship in a heavy sea.
The word will be employed in the following pages in a wide and comprehensive sense. We shall have to consider, not only the kind of animal behaviour which implies intelligence, sometimes of a high order; not only such behaviour as animal play and courtship, which suggests emotional attributes; but also forms of behaviour which, if not unconscious, seem to lack conscious guidance and control.
Although mammals and birds are widely regarded as the smartest creatures on earth, it has lately become clear that a very distant branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus. In captivity, octopuses have been known to identify individual human keepers, raid neighboring tanks for food, turn off lightbulbs by spouting jets of water, plug drains, and make daring escapes. How is it that a creature with such gifts evolved through an evolutionary lineage so radically distant from our own? What does it mean that evolution built minds not once but at least twice? The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter?

In Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith, a distinguished philosopher of science and a skilled scuba diver, tells a bold new story of how subjective experience crept into being—how nature became aware of itself. As Godfrey-Smith stresses, it is a story that largely occurs in the ocean, where animals first appeared. Tracking the mind’s fitful development, Godfrey-Smith shows how unruly clumps of seaborne cells began living together and became capable of sensing, acting, and signaling. As these primitive organisms became more entangled with others, they grew more complicated. The first nervous systems evolved, probably in ancient relatives of jellyfish; later on, the cephalopods, which began as inconspicuous mollusks, abandoned their shells and rose above the ocean floor, searching for prey and acquiring the greater intelligence needed to do so. Taking an independent route, mammals and birds later began their own evolutionary journeys.

But what kind of intelligence do cephalopods possess? Drawing on the latest scientific research and his own scuba-diving adventures, Godfrey-Smith probes the many mysteries that surround the lineage. How did the octopus, a solitary creature with little social life, become so smart? What is it like to have eight tentacles that are so packed with neurons that they virtually “think for themselves”? What happens when some octopuses abandon their hermit-like ways and congregate, as they do in a unique location off the coast of Australia?

By tracing the question of inner life back to its roots and comparing human beings with our most remarkable animal relatives, Godfrey-Smith casts crucial new light on the octopus mind—and on our own.

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