What Do Animals Think and Feel?: An Investigation into Emotional Behavior

Karsten Brensing. Pegasus, $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-64313-554-0
Biologist and behavioral scientist Brensing examines in this dense but rewarding study the “incredible social lives” animals have among themselves, filled “with colleagues, friends, relatives, enemies and strategically planned territorial wars.” Early chapters examine mating rituals and sex, in sometimes graphic detail. Brensing covers masturbation, “widespread in the animal kingdom,” both for recreation and, for animals that only mate at certain times of the year, to ensure “a constant supply of young, fresh semen.” He also talks bluntly about rape, among animals as different as the hyena and the red-sided garter snake—both of whose females have evolved protective “chastity belts.” Later sections examine learning, some “genetically preprogrammed,” as when, in one generation after another, young birds learn from their parents how to fly. Other cases represent original learning taking place: after one orca in a marine park discovered how to use bait to catch seagulls, the others quickly learned how to do the same. Thoughtful and comprehensive, Brensing’s survey will leave readers well-informed about animal thought and behavior. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 05/21/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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