left biblioblography: INTRINSIC VALUE IN ANOTHER SPECIES?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

INTRINSIC VALUE IN ANOTHER SPECIES?

I have mentioned this before, in other threads: yet I find the concept intrigues me.

This time, I'm looking at Flipper. For those of you too young to recall, I'm speaking, of course, of the dolphin.

[NOTE: I have been thinking about this on and off, but a recent post at Aaron Kinney's Kill the Afterlife prompted this.]

Maybe it's personification, but it sure seems like there's something behind the eyeball of a dolphin. Mind you, I've never looked myself, but I'll never forget a Jacques Costeau special, they were taping a whale of some sort, and the cetacean looked directly at the camera, and I'd swear that there's something going on in there, besides the four F's of survival.

From here:
(snip)
"Characteristics and Species
Dolphins are fishlike in form, with streamlined, hairless bodies. Their powerful, horizontal flukes, or tail fins, drive them through or out of the water, while their forefins and dorsal fin are used for steering. Constantly shedding their skins, dolphins accumulate no barnacles or other external parasites. A layer of blubber protects them from cold and seals small wounds. Dolphins breathe air through a single, dorsal blowhole.
The dolphin's intelligence, playfulness, and friendliness, its built-in smile and merry-looking eyes have been a source of interest and enchantment to human beings from earliest times; it is a common figure in mythology and literature and has been much depicted in art, especially in the posture of its graceful, arched, 30-ft (9-m) leap. Dolphins have long been famous for riding the bows of ships, and it is now known that they also ride the bows of large whales. Today they are valued and exploited as entertainers in more than 40 water shows around the world and have thus become available for extensive study."
(snip)
"Echolocation and Communication
Dolphins produce an enormous variety of sounds, up to frequencies ten times those heard by human beings. The sounds are apparently produced by a complex of anatomical structures including the blowhole with its air sacs and valves. Each dolphin has a signature whistle with which it identifies itself; a calf soon learns to recognize its mother's whistle. Clicking and rapid creaking sounds are the basis of the echolocation mechanism (sonar) with which the dolphin gathers extremely precise information about the size, location, and nature of surrounding objects. Dolphins communicate by means of a demonstrably descriptive language understood by more than one species, using all the sounds in their repertory. They are observed to converse, and it has been repeatedly shown that one animal can convey instructions to another. Computer-aided efforts are being made, so far without success, to learn the dolphin language and to teach dolphins human speech, either in its normal form or translated into whistle combinations."
(snip)

Maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic, but much of that sounds, well, sentient to me.

"Interaction with Humans
Dolphins are capable of imitation and memorization; they demonstrate foresight, learn from observation, communicate experience, solve complex problems, perform elaborate tasks, and learn multiple procedures simultaneously. Their so-called training is in fact a discipline structured around play, using their natural behavior as the basis for involved maneuvers; they appear to perform primarily for their own enjoyment. In situations of great stress in captivity they have been known to commit suicide by starvation, battering against walls, or drowning. There are many reports of dolphins rescuing people from drowning."
(snip)

Holy crap! I mean, I've known OODLES of folks (myself included!) who don't demonstrate that much friggin' sentience!

And just so we're all clear, the definition of sentience, from Wiki:

"Sentience is a capacity for basic consciousness—the ability to feel or perceive, not necessarily including the faculty of self-awareness. The word sentient is often confused with the word sapient, which can connote knowledge, higher consciousness, or apperception. The root of the confusion is that the word conscious has a number of different meanings in English. The two words can be distinguished by looking at their Latin roots: sentire, "to feel"; and sapere, "to know".

Sentience is the ability to perceive. It is separate from, and not dependent on, the other aspects of consciousness; because of this, some have suggested the possibility of philosophical zombies, beings which are not sentient but nonetheless behave exactly as you would expect a human to behave
."

So here's a poser, for the theists: how come dolphins seem to have more morals than a large percentile of humanity? Here's a species completely void of opposable thumbs, buildings, temples, can communicate with other species (something WE certainly have never accomplished, outside of the occasional primate), can have discussions (though that latest episode on 'American Dad', the son complains all dolphins want to do is discuss mackerel), and actually RESCUES HUMAN BEINGS ( a more decidedly alien species than their own, no less!).

After all, dolphins aren't mentioned in the bible, are they?

But of course, the ID'ers seize on this for an argument for 'irreducible complexity', here.

Oh, and here's another kicker:
From here:
"Claim: Bonobos and dolphins are the only animals other than humans who engage in sex for pleasure.

Status: True. "

Oh, and here's an amusing factoid:

There are only three animals who mate belly-to-belly. Humans. Dolphins. And porcupines. That last one makes a whole lotta sense, you ask me.

Anyways, food for thought.

Till the next post, then.

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19 comments:

Rosemary said...

Reluctant:

Some years ago, I was sitting on the second story balcony of a motel in Panama City Beach. I had a clear view of the gulf and while I watched a pair of dolphins swam parallel to the beach from my left. When they got about opposite me, they they began to swim back and forth in that area until a single dolphin swam towards the firt two from the right. Them all three swam off to the left. It looked, for all the world, as if they had had an appointment to meet at acertain spot and that the first two had arrived a bit early.

Krystalline Apostate said...

rosemary:
That's a great story!
Probably off to the marine equivalent of a pub.
I've really got to get at least 1 dolphin story under me belt.

udonman said...

about the only dolphin interaction I can say Ive had were the northern atlantic dolpins at the shedd aquarium in chicago I drop my glasses in the tank while petting one and he/she whent and brought them back to me.

oh yaeh so long and thanks for all the fish.

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

"There are only three animals who mate belly-to-belly. Humans. Dolphins. And porcupines."

Uh... Humans don't -always- mate belly-to-belly, do they?
If they do, I guess that I must be inhuman! (Sorry, Uncy... Sometimes the jokes are too easy to resist!)

Krystalline Apostate said...

udonman:
Another cool dolphin story.
oh yaeh so long and thanks for all the fish.
The Douglas Adams reference was inevitable, after all, ey?

HMDK:
If they do, I guess that I must be inhuman!
Nah, you're just a throwback! Hehehehe. ;)

udonman said...

no hairless is more like areach around then a throwback!

42

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

A throwback, am I?
Yeah, to the good ol' days of frivoulous fornication, if nothing else! (Which ought to be enough!)


Udonman, so long and thanks for all fish... heh! You beat me to it!

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Udonman...
I sure as hell won't give YOU the courtesy of a reach-around then! If THAT'S your attitude! You bitch! Heehhe!!!
But I'd still nail you, gorgeous.
Wait... wasn't I supposed to be straight? Ah... who cares.

udonman said...

okay babe lets stop this here and now before we each go to far.

and to tell you the truth Im sure if you took the time more animals then dolphins and bonobos engage in sex for fun now on the other hand bonobos and dolphins have been known to use sex as a social classifaction method not sure where I seen that but I will try to find a source if I can.

Tony

Krystalline Apostate said...

HMDK:
But I'd still nail you, gorgeous.
Yeesh, y'all, get a room!
Though I gotta admit - he does look good in those outfits....

udonman:
and to tell you the truth Im sure if you took the time more animals then dolphins and bonobos engage in sex for fun now on the other hand bonobos and dolphins have been known to use sex as a social classifaction method not sure where I seen that but I will try to find a source if I can.
Well, I usually trust snopes.com, along w/Wiki & answers.com.
As always, open to correction.

udonman said...

I think I read it a the omaha zoos reaserch library when I worked there I would spend my lunch in the library maybe it was there will look into it.

Krystalline Apostate said...

udonman:
maybe it was there will look into it
Cool. Lemmee know.

udonman said...

I will try to get there on monday if I can.

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Uncy admitted:
"Though I gotta admit - he does look good in those outfits...."

My thoughts exactly!
And I'm not even kidding, actually.
I'm just envious.

udonman said...

hey Im blushing here thanks.

but at least I dont have an eagle tatoo on my chest.

karen said...

OK, I won't be jealous as long as I can get some of that throw-back action, michael.
But belly-to-belly is a definite when we wear the pokeypine outfits. :)

Cool dolphin stories, folks. I've watched 'em swim offshore while at the each, but nothing more impressive to report than just the dolphins themselves.

Krystalline Apostate said...

HMDK:
My thoughts exactly!
And I'm not even kidding, actually.
I'm just envious.

Oh my. What bars YOU been hanging out in lately? ;)

udonman:
but at least I dont have an eagle tatoo on my chest.
Ah, admit it, you're just jealous! ;)

karen:
But belly-to-belly is a definite when we wear the pokeypine outfits. :)
Man, what a bunch o' hedonists!
I love ya all anyways.

udonman said...

HMDK:
My thoughts exactly!
And I'm not even kidding, actually.
I'm just envious.
Oh my. What bars YOU been hanging out in lately? ;)


oh I think I know wink wink


and RA oh of course Im jealous of an eagle tat with chest hair growing out of an orifice which im curious which orifice by the way? and any pictures yet?

Krystalline Apostate said...

udonman:
and RA oh of course Im jealous of an eagle tat with chest hair growing out of an orifice which im curious which orifice by the way?
Use your imagination.
and any pictures yet?
Gah! Bloggar is so inept at handling pictures. I'm SO ready to convert to Wordpress!
I'll try to get it in this weekend. Probably w/a longer version of the anecdote.
The things I do, for my beloved readers!
Thankfully, the tat's not on...tender anatomy, ergo, it won't be a pic one receives via email at a sexual matchmaker site.