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Bees playing football?  Science deepens data on animal consciousness  Energy and science

Bees playing football? Science deepens data on animal consciousness Energy and science

The animal revolution occurs towards a more respected place in society. For critics, it can be said that the path towards recognizing animal rights is slow, and even scientific confirmation that they are often sentient beings, capable of having feelings, but the truth is that every day this cause is taking an ant step forward.

On the 19th, researchers from various fields of study related to the topic gathered to sign the New York Declaration on Animal Awarenessa document that formalizes science's recognition of the countless evidence for the ability to experience emotions in octopuses, bees, snakes, and other previously ignored animals.

In 2012, a similar document was issued Cambridge Declaration on ConsciousnessHe had already reinforced this recognition of mammals, birds, and octopuses, highlighting at the time that they had brain responses very similar to those of humans regarding pain, pleasure, and affection, among other basic emotions.

In some cases, there has already been talk of awareness verified in the mirror test, when an animal has the cognitive ability to know that it is seeing a reflection of itself. Twelve years ago, dolphins, monkeys and elephants had already passed the test.

“The science of animal consciousness has made rapid progress in the past decade, but the evidence remains confusing and incomplete. We hope the statement will stimulate researchers to make new discoveries, and we also hope it will motivate public authorities to consider the risks to animal welfare,” says Professor Geoff Seabo, from New York University, one of the organizers of the announcement, said in a conversation with Homme Su Planeta: “We have many more animals now, rather than waiting for future discoveries.”

The fish looks in the mirror, and the bees play football

With the announcement of 2024, academic research has evolved to include fish in the category of self-awareness. An experiment conducted on the cleaner wrasse, a small fish that lives in coral reefs on the northern coast of Africa and French Polynesia, indicated that the animal was able to… Understand the function of reflection in a mirror: First, it was aggressive, thinking it was another fish. After that, he calmed down, and finally, when he saw a spot on his body in the mirror, he used the reflection as a guide to rub himself on a surface within his reach.

Labroides dimidiatus, or cleaner wrasse – Photo: Getty Images

There is more evidence that insects and other animals perceived as “insensitive” may have sensations similar to ours. If in 2012 scientists announced their surprise when they saw how structural differences in the nervous system did not prevent different species from showing similar emotions, now scientists gathered in New York point out this. Bees play football Just for fun as an example of progress in science.

Pictures from the experiment of bees interacting with wooden balls in the United States of America. -Photo: Donna et al / Disclosure

“The bees rolled the balls because they found them intrinsically rewarding rather than a means to an end. Second, the behavior did not serve a clear function. Third, the bees were not training a behavior that they would use for another purpose, such as foraging or mating. Fourth, the bees rolled the balls repeatedly , but not in exactly the same way every time. Finally, the behavior increased when the bees were relaxed, indicating that it was a pleasant experience and was not caused by stress. Basement section From the document.

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Scientific basis breeds respect for animals, says veterinarian

The New York Declaration highlights four arguments: There is a strong scientific basis for attributing conscious experience to other mammals and birds; Empirical evidence suggests at least the realistic possibility of conscious experience in all vertebrates (including reptiles, amphibians, and fish) and in many invertebrates (including, at least, cephalopod molluscs, decapod crustaceans, and insects); When there is a realistic possibility of conscious experience in an animal, “it is irresponsible to ignore that possibility in decisions affecting that animal.” The document also adds that risks to wellbeing must be taken into account and evidence must be used to guide responses to these risks.

For Jefferson Perez, A veterinarian specializing in wild animalsDocuments like the one from New York are a foundation upon which countless animal protection actions can flourish. “It generates respect and the tools to defend animals. This type of initiative shows how psychologically harmful hunting is to them, for example.” In the Wild animal rehabilitation centerwhich is a reference in the capital of Rio de Janeiro The doctor treats crocodilesCats, amphibians, and birds of various wild types.

Regarding the use of animals in laboratory research, Pires, who is also a professor at the Universidad Estacio de Sa, in Wargem Pequena, Rio, gives an example of the development in the handling of animals during veterinary training. The doctor reported that 25 years ago, when he was a student, it was common in veterinary courses to use street dogs as guinea pigs, sometimes undergoing semester-long surgeries. He says that cruelty that was once considered necessary “is no longer possible today,” due to advances in animals' awareness of consciousness.

Veterinarian and professor Jefferson Pires treats a crocodile that swallowed plastic bags, at CRAS in Rio de Janeiro. -Photo: Clone/Instagram

The New York Scientific Community Initiative could also make an impact in the field of animal law, assesses Rafael Speck, a doctoral candidate in law at UFSC (Federal University of Santa Catarina), in the “Environmental Law and Human Rights” research line. rights”.

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“In practice, in judicial rulings, this statement can serve as support to reinforce the idea of ​​animal consciousness, which is indisputable, but we still live in a society with a mechanical perspective that animals are tools, resources, things, and when we have them A document signed by famous researchers, this gives weight when faced with controversy, such as the debate between protection and consumption, conservation and recreation, and hunting.”

Himself Brazilian Civil Code is the subject of discussion Its text could be updated to raise the status of animals.

The twisted paths of science

Despite the movement around the topic, consciousness is not an exact science. But the growing accumulation of evidence calls on society to pay attention to its relationship with animals, which has a broad impact. From caring for pets, to choices about family food and clothing, and regulatory decisions in health, these are examples of activities that face ethical issues involving human relationships with other species.

“There is so much diversity that we don't know everything,” Beres says. “Fish are ectotherms [mudam a temperatura do corpo de acordo com o ambiente]But an endothermic type has been discovered [o peixe-lua, que tem sangue quente]. The diversity is so great that we can be surprised. There may be intelligent fish like primates, but we may have another extreme. We cannot generalize. Without a doubt, almost all animals, with the exception of fish, are sentient, but given the diversity and history of our research, I would not be surprised to find a species that is not.

Speck, who is also part of UFSC's Environmental Justice Observatory, points out that the statement is precise in its language. “It is cautious, but it expands the scope significantly. It is undeniable that it will enhance interpretation of the subject, both in public policy and in the judicial arena.” Sibo, one of the instigators of this discussion from New York, believes this is the intention.

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The statement states that we must take into account risks to the well-being of all vertebrates and many invertebrates, including insects. Expanding interest in all of these animals can make a huge difference in animal welfare. For example, we already farm about a billion insects a year, and we could farm up to 50 billion insects a year within a decade. By considering the risks to the welfare of these animals, public authorities can improve the lives of billions of people.

— Jeff Sibo, professor at New York University

The declaration believes that there is evidence to support the conclusion that animals have some kind of consciousness, which are sufficient elements to change society’s perception and treatment of them.

“It would be inappropriate to speak of 'evidence', 'certainty' or 'smoking gun' in the search for animal consciousness, because the nature of consciousness is still hotly debated. However, it is entirely appropriate to interpret these remarkable displays of learning, memory, and planning, “Problem-solving, self-awareness, and other similar abilities are evidence of consciousness in cases where the same behavior, if found in a human or another mammal, would be well explained by conscious processing,” the New York experts add “It increases the likelihood that these animals will become conscious without proving that they are infected with it, and the symptoms of the disease increase the likelihood that you will become infected with the disease without proving that you have it.”