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The missing link? What does it mean for animal welfare?

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.

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photo cred: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fleshforblood/2974322849/

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82 comments

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1:50PM PDT on Jun 20, 2009

Before Lindsey O describes people as "lay" she should ensure that her assumption is correct. No, "Ida" may not be a type of lemur, as Lindsey so rightly informs me, but whatever she is I still have no reason to believe that she is a forerunner of hominids either, oposable thumb or not.

3:59PM PDT on May 28, 2009

If I hear barking I assume I am listening to the sound made by a dog. If I see ranting I assume I am reading (enduring) a creationist diatribe. Not entirely unreasonable. Oh and never having gone to college or even high school I was never taught anything about evolution, however I do know that it has nothing to do with frogs turning into princes. Now kindly stop beating up on that defenceless strawman, he's had enough.

11:39AM PDT on May 28, 2009

And for those of you who see evolutionary theory as incompatible with the concept of a "designer"?

Why?

Science does not say that there was no "designer". All science describes is the process.

If you're one of the ones who believes some divinity(ies) created life on earth - then couldn't they have created life by using the process of evolution?

There are many religionists who fully accept that their god chose evolution as his/her/its means of populating the earth. And there is absolutely nothing in science or in evolutionary theory which contradicts that. Nothing in science supports it, either, of course - but it certainly doesn't contradict it.

9:47AM PDT on May 28, 2009

"...People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of any proof, but on the basis of what they have been taught and what they find is most attractive to them regardless of whatever the real truth may be."
so... that would pretty much place you in the same spot as the rest of the human race... meanning that there's no chance of any to find the so-called truth... your "truth" would be as true or as false as the rest's...
(I've always thought that only a human who can only create things could vision someone creating him like a "creator"... the rest would imagine someone spawning them like a "creator"... that would make more sense, I think, since we are just 1 species and the rest... well, just millions)

6:00AM PDT on May 28, 2009

For you Rosemary:

I have never mentioned the Bible in my writtings or mentioned the Great Hebrew God.
I have not said that the Bible is completely correct or false.
I have talked about an intelligent design of which I see the proof of in every direction I look.
One great example is your immune system and how it works to keep you alive.
I have never mention religion which is the cause of many a war all through out History and in our present times.
You are assuming that I am a religious fanatic and your wrong.
However, I do liken Evolution to much like in Grammar School they taught me that a Frog turning into a Prince was a Fairy Tale, but then in college they tried to teach me that a Frog turning into a Prince was a fact.
So which is actually true?
This brings me to understand that People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of any proof, but on the basis of what they have been taught and what they find is most attractive to them regardless of whatever the real truth may be.

5:24AM PDT on May 28, 2009

if finding Ida makes us rethink our attitude to other animals that would be a great evolutionary step

3:06AM PDT on May 28, 2009

"Burning Darwins books would certainly be a good place to begin in order for this generation and future generations to have a more intelligent viewpoint on why and how there is life on this Planet."

How Christian. Bet you'd really enjoy digging up Darwin's remains and burning THEM.

"Those who believe in Evolution have been Brainwashed by the Media and unfortunately do not really want to educate themselves in looking for the truth of the matter."

Isn't there something in your precious Wholly Babble about judging not lest one be judged?

"Evolution is a lie and it takes a non-analytical mind to believe in such Bull-only."

The only Bull in evidence here is your rancid ravings.

2:56AM PDT on May 28, 2009

"You see Evolution is a lie and the proof is all around you."

You wear your designer creationist blinkers with such panache. Do you have matching earplugs or do you simply put your fingers in your ears and sing LALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!?

2:49AM PDT on May 28, 2009

"Sorry Lindsey, but so called evolution evidence jumps to a conclusion, then builds on that conclusion."

Scientist: Here is the evidence, now let's see what conclusions we can draw from it.
Creationist: Here are the conclusions, now let's see how we can twist the evidence to harmonise with them.

2:48AM PDT on May 28, 2009

"So back to the animal cruelty thing. I'd just like to know...if we don't test certain drugs etc. on animals, who/what/how should we test them? On humans?"
Yes.

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