Term Paper: Hierarchy of Animals the Relative

Pages: 2 (650 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Animals

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[. . .] Nevertheless, even in these respects, the hierarchical supremacy of human beings is potentially open to challenge by insects such as the honeybee, whose hives and social structure exhibit astonishing complexity as well. Furthermore, evidence collected from work conducted with dolphins and elephants suggest the remote but distinct possibility that the complexity of their social structure and intellectual capabilities may be much closer to that of human intelligence than that of other animals (Moussaieff Masson, 1995).

Humans likely qualify as the highest form of animal life from the perspective of intellectual development and technological achievement, but that raises another paradox, that along with the accolades of accomplishment come moral responsibilities. One could argue that the ability to coexist peacefully with the rest of one's species is also a relevant factor in establishing a respective hierarchy of life forms.

While warfare and gratuitous violence are not necessarily exclusive failings of human beings, man is likely the only animal who can be said to violate his own moral concepts, perhaps lowering his relative status among more naturally peaceful animals.

In that respect, Bonobo (or Pygmy) chimpanzees may rank higher than human beings by virtue of their more harmonious, peaceful communal lifestyle (Moussaieff Mason, 1995).

On an intellectual level, and certainly from the point-of-view of technological achievement and sophistication, human beings are clearly the highest form of animal life in the history of biological life on Earth. Ultimately though, the relative ranking of animal species on the hierarchy of biological life depends on how one defines animal life and on the arbitrary criteria one values in determining relative status.


Berry, A. (1996) Galileo and the Dolphins. Wiley & Sons: New York

Moussaieff Mason, J., McCarthy, S. (1995) When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals. Delacorte: New York

Wenke, R. (1999) Patterns in Prehistory: Humankind's First… [END OF PREVIEW]

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