several recent books by prominent animals, no significant difference can be found in animal research (that is, we assume, research conducted by animals) that would justify the commonly-held believe that humans are somehow different.
“There is nothing special about being human," says Henry Gee (of a species unspecified) in The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution, "any more than there is anything special about being a guinea pig or a geranium ... humans are just one twig in the thicket, and they could easily have never sprouted at all."
The insensitive remarks about guinea pigs and geraniums is in part due no doubt to the fact that none of the books were written by guinea pigs or geraniums, which is understandable: Geraniums have been having a hard winter and the guinea pig community has never been very sympathetic toward scientific research (for obvious reasons).
According to Mark Bekoff, author of Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship and Conservation, humans are different from animals only to the extent that we are "the only animals who cook food, and no other species is as destructive of its own and other species."
Whatever species of animal Bekoff may happen to be, he clearly seems to have a chip on his shoulder (possibly some past run-ins with humans that went wrong), as does Gee. In fact, humans don't seem to fare too well at all in these books.
"Like Gee," says reviewer Stephen Cave, "Bekoff supports his case with examples of altruistic rats, toolmaking crows and evidence of the emotional lives of bees. Towards the end, there is even an account of what appears to be animal spirituality: one group of chimpanzees have been recorded participating in a “waterfall dance”, during which they would stand upright at the water’s edge, swaying rhythmically from foot to foot and stamping for up to 15 minutes.
According to recent research ... Uh, hang on a second.
Let me check these books again. Hmmm. Well, shoot. Actually the books are written by human, not animal scientists. In fact, there are no animal scientists. As it turns out animals don't conduct research or do science or even write books. They don't read them either. In fact, they are not even capable of asking the question of whether they are different from humans.
Only humans do these things, a fact so obvious that even a geranium could have figured it out.
If I couldn't do all these things, I too would be swaying rhythmically and stamping my feet in sheer frustration.
You'd have to be as dumb as a rock to think that humans really are no different from animals. Come to think of it, since we're no less the products of nature than rocks, why should we be any different from them either?