A critical look at the beloved fables that investigates whether there is any scientific truth to Aesop's portrayal of his animals.
Despite being conceived over two-and-a-half thousand years ago, Aesop's Fables are still passed from parent to child today, and are embedded in our collective consciousness. The morals still inform our judgments, but have they influenced our views of the animal protagonists as well? And, if so, is there any truth behind the stereotypes? Are crows smart enough to reason? Are pigeons so dumb they cannot tell the difference between painting and reality? Are ants truly capable of looking ahead to the future and planning their actions?
In Aesop's Animals, zoologist Jo Wimpenny turns a critical eye to the fables and ask whether there is any scientific truth to Aesop's portrayal of his animals. She brings the tales into the twenty-first century, introducing the latest scientific research on some of the most fascinating topics in animal behavior. Each chapter focuses on a different fable and a different topic in ethology, including future planning, tool use, self-recognition, cooperation and deception. At the end of each chapter, the author pulls together the evidence to assess whether Aesop's portrayal of the animals holds true from a modern, scientific perspective.
Through interviews with leading researchers in the behavioral ecology, this book brings these famous tales back to life. People are always fascinated by animal behavior, especially studies that suggest the presence of intelligence and other 'human-like' characteristics that reveal how we may share more with these creatures than we ever imagined. Aesop's Animals builds on this, revealing cutting-edge research findings about animal abilities, as well as enabling the reader to explore and challenge their own preconceived notions about the animal kingdom.