The missing link? What does it mean for animal welfare?
Ida is an interesting animal, she’s unlike any other. She’s a lemur who looks a little like a monkey. Or more accurately, she was. Scientists found her47-million-year-old fossilized remains in Germany and have completed an extensive analysis. A new book suggests Ida is a critical missing-link species in primate evolution. This discovery is a big success for the intellectual argument for animal rights because it is more evidence that humans and other animals have a common evolutionary ancestry.
What does evolution have to do with animal welfare?
The concept of evolution addresses one of the core questions of animal advocacy, why should we care about animals? Animals are like us. We humans are not categorically different than any other animal, we are only different in a matter of degree. Sure, humans are more intelligent than dogs, whales, cats, chickens, cows, and elephants. No one denies that but in the big picture, our greater capacity for analytical thinking is only a very small difference. The vast majority of our physiology is the same as other animals. Our DNA is over 95% identical to some other animals. The most important similarity among all animals is our central nervous systems, which are nearly identical to all other animals. That means we have nearly identical capacities for suffering.
It does not matter how intelligent you are when it comes to suffering, to cruelty. A pig can suffer just as much as a dog, just as much as a boy. That’s not to say that those 3 animals deserve equal rights, but they certainly all deserve equal consideration of their suffering. No one would suggest that we treat less intelligent humans any less humanely than other humans. So why is it acceptable to confine chickens, cows and pigs in terrible factory farms or subject primates and bunnies to cruel experiments in labs? Because they’re less intelligent than us? Because they are not like us?
Hopefully Ida will help us make the link between all animals. When it comes to cruelty and suffering, all animals are equal.
photo cred: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fleshforblood/2974322849/