Do Human Behaviors Mirror Animal Behavior?

Lately I’ve been pondering how animal and human behaviors mirror each another. My curiosity on this was prompted by an amazing experience Trudy and I had while in Kenya.

While visiting a chimpanzee conservancy, we viewed two populations of chimps divided by a river. Since chimps don’t swim, the populations remained separated and suspicious of one another.
One group of chimps on the right bank approached the river bank where on the left side another population of  chimps lived. This led to a rapid escalation of tension and an aggressive display. The outburst consisted of one group rallying their fellow chimps and racing full bore through the forest, vocalizing loudly and shaking trees wildly. On reaching the river bank the charging chimps hurled branches far into the river to intimidate the opposing band of chimps on the opposite bank.DSC_3532

DSC_3550This brought to mind the admonition by Colin Powell regarding the lead up to the Iraq war. He maintained that “shock and awe” would play a big part in any subsequent battle and, indeed, it did. The Iraqis quickly abandoned their positions. Aggressive displays in chimps and man?

Lately I’ve taken special notice of my horses’ feeding behavior. Fancy, our mare, always stops at the end of the trough nearest to our slow-footed, approaching gelding, Doc. There she will eat as much as equinely possible in the brief time before Doc arrives and chases her to the other end of the trough.

While Fancy schemes, he still gets his share.

While Fancy schemes, Doc still gets his share.

Fancy uses a strategy to consume as much food as possible given her smaller size but faster pace. This got me to reminiscing about my own upbringing.

I recall growing up and eating (dueling might be more accurate) with my two hungry brothers. We brothers would each mound up our potatoes and vegetables as high as possible, conserving space on the plate before one of our parents served our portions of the tasty entree.  We all took care to leave a large vacant and inviting spot on our plates to suggest the need for a generous serving of meat.

Seems to me something of a commonality exists between horse and human eating behaviors. Both in these instances sought to game the system in order to gain as much food as possible at the expense of either the other horse or a brother.

What do you think? Any instances where you see similar mirrored behavior between humans and animals? Would love to learn your thoughts.

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