Saturday, November 5, 2016

Envying Animals, Part 2--Non-senses

My previous article "Envying Animals, Part 1--Vision, Hearing, Sense of Smell" was about envying animal characteristics pertaining to three senses. This article is about envying animal non-sense (grin) characteristics. Obvious capabilities are flight and living underwater without requiring mechanical devices. Other marvelous animal capabilities are ability to leap tall objects in a single bound, tails for tools and communication, and ability to hide in plain sight.

Flight
Has anyone ever, from youngster age on up, ever NOT wished for ability for self-propelled flight? For animals, we have birds, bats, and flying insects. We have aircraft and other machines that fly. Legendary fantasy flyers, such as European dragons, flying monkeys, Pegasus, and flying creatures from Avatar tantalize the fancy for flight. We have fantasy superheroes with wings or jet packs, and some who originate from other dimensions or planets.

Especially impressive are birds that can fly very long distances without stopping. From "These amazing little birds just broke the world record for nonstop flight": "These amazing little birds just broke the world record for nonstop flight … common swifts are capable of flying for 10 months without once touching land".

Underwater Living
Wouldn't it be great to breathe underwater without using a snorkel or scuba tank? Or deal with holding breath? Or worry about running out of air? Wonder about fish aquatic environment? "How do fish breathe under water?" explains: "Fish use their gills to breathe by extracting oxygen from the surrounding water."

High Jumps (Able to Leap Tall Objects in a Single Bound)
I think it'd be cool to be able to jump heights that cats, squirrels, and deer can in relation to their body lengths.
On a related note, "Top 10 Best Jumper Animals!" depicts animals that exhibit astounding horizontal as well as vertical jumping abilities.

Tail Uses
We humans lack tails. I envy dogs for having tails for conveying emotion. I envy prehensile-tailed animals for their ability to use their tails like an additional hand.
  • "Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?" state "Dogs use their tails to communicate strong emotions such as agitation, annoyance and anger as well as happiness."
  • "Animals With Prehensile Tails: Gripping Facts and Pictures" describes numerous animals that use their tails as tools. "They can curl their tail around objects such as branches and hold on to those objects for balance. … The Silky Anteater and the northern and southern tamandua have prehensile tails, which assists them in climbing trees or holding on to branches or other objects."
Hiding in Plain Sight—Camouflage, Mimicry
Some animals have their own cloaking devices, some for seeing without being seen, and some for making them seem to be something they're not.
Hanging Out in Groups—Swarm Behavior
I envy and marvel about some animals that can swarm without colliding into other members. Think about swarms of bees, flocks of birds, and schools of fish. From "Swarm behaviour": "a collective behaviour exhibited by entities, particularly animals, of similar size which aggregate together, perhaps milling about the same spot or perhaps moving en masse or migrating in some direction. … From a more abstract point of view, swarm behaviour is the collective motion of a large number of self-propelled entities."

I can only imagine if aliens observe humans going 'round and 'round a race track collectively, but collide into others. Also, consider what alien observers might infer if they saw a sporting event—migration into a stadium, rituals and movements in the center that correlate with group motions and vocalizations, and migration out of the stadium.

Some Human Advantages Over Animals
Despite my envy of several animals' characteristics, in some areas (and more), we humans excel animals:
  • Speech and communication, as in spoken and written language
  • Human bipedalism that helps with seeing and assessing environments, and leaves hands free to do other things
  • Unlike a goodly number of animals, no need to eat on the run, such as pursuing live prey for a meal or chomping on animal on the hoof. Also seldom needing to fret of predators in hot pursuit to make a meal out of us.

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