Monthly Archives: November 2011

“What an Animal is,” a Case Study by T.F. Grundle, Biologist

Animals are those things that aren’t what humans are. They’re the ones that, when you try to speak to them like a person, react inappropriately.

Conversely, you can identify a human by gauging the level of anger when you treat it like an animal. Trying to put anything inside a cage, for instance, is often difficult. It is more difficult with a human. This is called irony.

There are lots of animals in the world, and while some estimates are in the hundreds, you will often only find a small sample in your immediate environment. These are called pets (the rats that come with houses are NOT pets). Pets are the ones you give food to—the ones that sometimes bite you when you poke them, or even when you’re minding your own business.

The ones that you don’t give food to are called wildlife, and they live outside. You mustn’t get angry at these ones, even when they pee in public. It’s illegal to yell and cry when you see this happen, unfortunately.

Animals get divided into categories. A cat, for instance, is a member of the animal family, and there’s even more than one type of cat! There’s the nice type (the one in your house is probably a member of this species, although “nice” is pushing it) and the mean type (these ones have wings. Watch out). There’s an even meaner type of cat, called a lion. They live in the forest and if you see one, run!

Koalas are gay. But there aren’t even any girl koalas anyways.

Animals are different from humans in many ways. One of the main differences is that humans have a type of consciousness that has not been discovered in any other species. This consciousness has for centuries attracted debate, and it is considered our species’ most fortunate blight. It allows us to experience the richness and wonder of our Earth, and at the same time demands that we confront our mortality. We agonize over physical pain, and agonize further over the existence of pain. This consciousness has inspired a thing called “art,” which is sometimes so powerful it can drive a person to transcendence or madness.

Did you know that some animals don’t even have arms or legs? A snail is like this.



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