Rudimentary Organs in Animals
RUDIMENTARY ORGANS IN ANIMALS.
THE striking similarity between the mental manifestations of men and animals has always been a subject of remark among thinking men and lovers of nature. It has given origin to fables and allegories, and their power to the doctrines of fetichism and transmigration. All savage and semi-civilized peoples are accustomed to regard the brute as occupying a higher place in the scale of intellect than is commonly vouchsafed him by us. And is it not possible that we
may have erred in this respect, and have arbitrarily placed too great a distance between ourselves and those humbler creatures that are our companions in the walk of life ? Do we alone possess conscious voluntary intelligence and moral aspirations?
My position on this matter is briefly this: That every mental organ possessed by man—including the Intellectual and Moral organs—can be found existing, in some rudimentary degree, however slight, in some one or more of the creatures below him. That every creature below man, possessing a brain, possesses every organ of man, is an assertion that I do not venture to make, and consider very improbable. Combe, in speaking of the Moral organs, says : " The convolutions which form the organs of Veneration, Hope, and Conscientiousness in the human brain, run transversely; and in the brains of the lower animals, so far as I have observed, no corresponding convolutions appear." This has been commonly considered as conclusively answering all questions with regard to the possession of moral organs by animals, but I can not so regard it. The mere absence of certain convolutions does not prove the absence of organs. Birds, rats, squirrels are destitute of convolutions, but as they manifest considerable mental power, they must, if Phrenology be true, possess organs. For it is one of the fundamental doctrines of Phrenology, that "each faculty of the mind has its separate or special organ in the brain"; therefore, to prove the existence of the faculty, is to prove the existence of the organ. To prove an act proves an organ that acted, and a faculty that incited to action.
As the brain cortex, or surface, is the part devoted to thinking and emotion, or conscious cerebration, it seems logical that the greater the surface, the greater the mental power, and the formation of convolutions appears to be nature's plan for increasing the extent of the surface without greatly increasing the bulk of the entire brain. While, therefore, the presence of deep, clearly cut, and numerous convolutions indicates great strength and activity of the mental powers, the entire or partial absence of convolutions, in any particular tract of brain surface, does not disprove the existence—in a rudimentary state—of the organs usually found in that tract. Phrenologists estimate the size of organs by measuring from the medulla oblongata—the center of the brain—to the surface where the organs are located in a manner analogous to the estimation of the size of a wagon wheel by the length of its spokes." We are also told that "size is the measure of power"; therefore, to prove that there is any brain substance, however small, between the center of the brain and the location of any organ, is tantamount to proving the existence of that organ, and its possession of a certain amount or measure of power. Now, without doubt, a certain distance does intervene between the brain center and the parts of the surface where phrenologists locate the moral and intellectual organs in a large number of the lower animals, and they must therefore possess those faculties in a certain degree. So much for the anatomical evidence. Let us turn to the evidence of the functions.
We will commence with the Semi-Intellectual group of organs. Constructiveness is apparent in so many creatures that it is hardly necessary to attempt to prove its existence. Every treatise on natural history contains abundant examples; Wood's "Homes without Hands " is especially full. Not only do the building mammals, birds, and insects display-instinct by building in certain definite forms characteristic of the species, but also a certain amount of reason in adapting and changing those forms to suit varying circumstances, and new and strange building materials. Modern naturalists, too, have shown that birds, etc., improve from year to year in the art of nest-building, which would seem to show that intelligence aids instinct in their construction.
Wood says of the Baltimore oriole: "The materials of the nest are, however, extremely variable, the bird having a natural genius for nidification, and being always ready to take advantage of any new discoveries in architecture." Wilsorr remarks of the nest of the Orchard oriole, that they "exhibit not only art in the construction, but judgment in adapting their fabrications so judiciously to their particular situations. If the action of birds proceeded, as some would have us believe, from the mere impulses of that thing called instinct, individuals of the same species would uniformly build their nests in the same manner, wherever they might happen to fix it; but it is evident from those just mentioned, and from a thousand such circumstances, that they reason, a priori, from cause to consequence, persistently managing, with a constant eye to future necessity and convenience."
I could fill this article with such quotations ; but the testimony of these two eminent naturalists must suffice. Imitation is actively exhibited by monkeys, parrots, and more or less by all gregarious animals. Mocking-birds are specially imitative. All domestic animals read human character well, so far as it has reference to their comfort and well-being. Fear, anger, kindness, or malice are detected in the human voice and countenance with a quickness that is astonishing, and this proves their possession of the faculty of Human Nature. Dogs display great agreeableness, and greyhounds and pointers are especially desirous of pleasing every one they meet. Gregarious animals often take great pains to please each other.
How much Ideality the lower animals possess, we may perhaps never know, but it is not improbable that the fondness of many creatures for the most beautiful parts of the landscape may spring—partly at least—from the exercise of this faculty. Birds appear to take pleasure in keeping their feathers clean and glossy, and in displaying them to their mates. Cats are fond of bright colors, and delight in laying on gorgeous rugs and mats; and they are also fond of some perfumes. This fondness for perfumery is shared by many other creatures. The Satin Bower bird delights in adorning its playhouses or bowers with feathers, bones, shells, bright-colored rags, and any other bright or attractive object it may discover. A similar taste causes ravens, magpies, daws, and other birds of the crow family, to form hoards or museums of all the bright objects and trinkets they can obtain. Eagles, sea-birds, and carnivorous animals appear to delight in storms, and the grandest and most sublime phenomena; and who shall say that there is not something in them that responds to these savage aspects of nature? It certainly appears improbable that the Creator should endow so many of his creatures with the desire to construct beautiful habitations in beautiful situations, and not at the same time give them some sense of the loveliness of those structures and surroundings. That they are happy in their work and enjoy it, can not be doubted.
It will probably surprise many to be told that animals have the organ of Mirthfulness, but I am satisfied that such is the fact. The playfulness that nearly all creatures display is only a form of Mirthfulness. Indeed the late Dr. Trail contended that the right name of this organ was Playfulness. Monkeys, dogs, kittens, and all young mammals are specially playful. Monkeys grin ; dogs, when engaged in those romping sports in which they delight, will wrinkle the lips and show the teeth in a veritable smile ; and domesticated parrots will laugh with great heartiness and enjoyment. Dogs will become ashamed, sulky, or offended when laughed at, and horses often become violently enraged under a similar ordeal. Every one must have noticed the fondness of monkeys and young animals for practical joking, and teasing each other; and it is hardly reasonable to suppose that monkeys, puppies, kittens, etc., would engage continuously in the most mirth-provoking antics and capers if they were entirely incapable of appreciating their drollness.
Now let us turn to the Selfish group. Here our work is easier. Cautiousness is active in hares, crows, deer, etc.; bulldogs, asses, and mules are proverbial for excessive Firmness; and peacocks and magpies are equally so for Approbativeness. In fact, so apparent are the manifestations of this last organ in these creatures, and so great their enjoyment in exercising its functions, that it can not even be considered as rudimentary. Lions, bulls, large dogs, and nearly all large wild animals, are remarkable for pride, dignity, self-reliance, and a desire to rule.
In considering the last or Religious group of organs, the reader must remember that I do not assert or believe that any animal has any idea of a Deity, a future life, or the refinements of modern morality; but I do believe that animals possess the rudiments of the moral organs, and manifest their functions, so far as they have reference to the life that now is. The lower forms of Veneration—respect, humility, and obedience toward superiors —can be readily detected in gregarious animals by any unprejudiced observer. It forms the basis of the "follow my leader" principle, so strong in them. And it is through the agency of Veneration that man, by substituting himself for the natural leader, has obtained dominion over them ; for it is a noteworthy fact that only those quadrupeds and birds that naturally band together under a leader, have been successfully domesticated. The veneration of wild beasts for man makes them fear to meet his eye, and by acting on this faculty the "lion tamer" controls his fearful charge. The veneration of the canine race has been beautifully remarked by the poet Burns : " Man is the god of the dog; he knows no other; he can understand no other. And see how he worships him; with what reverence he crouches at his feet; with what love he fawns upon him; with what dependence he looks up to him; and with what cheerful alacrity he obeys him ! His whole soul is wrapt up in his god; all the powers and faculties of his nature are devoted to his service; and these powers and faculties are ennobled by the intercourse. Divines tell us that it ought to be just so with the Christian ; but the dog puts the Christian to shame."
Who can doubt that animals possess Hope? To see a dog watch for hours with fixed attention for his master's return, and then to see him bound forward with tumultuous glee the moment he appears in sight, ought to convince the most skeptical. Or, if further proof is needed, go view some noble steed, whose master is approaching with the coveted grain ; his eyes sparkle ; his ears are erect; his nostrils quiver; and he paws the ground and neighs aloud in an excess of delighted anticipation. Of course animals are destitute of the higher forms of Faith; but they are capable of great trust and confidence. A timid horse will, when mounted by a brave man, go through perils unflinchingly that he would shrink from in abject terror if alone, or mounted by a rider as timid as himself. A kind man can win the trust of almost any animal. Large dogs are noted' for benevolence and magnanimity toward inferior canines, and to human beings, especially children. In fact, the Benevolence of dogs needs no exposition ; it is known to all, and instances are recorded every day where dogs rescue drowning men, find those who are lost, protect the weak, etc., etc. The dogs of Mount St. Bernard are a noteworthy example. Dogs have also been known to give alms of food to sick or hungry companions, to human beings, and even to horses and other animals. Benevolence combining with Philo-progenitiveness causes many creatures to pet others who would usually be their enemies or victims, or else objects of indifference. Parrots have been known to pet mice; snakes, birds; lions, dogs; dogs, cats; and the Happy Families of the showman afford still stranger instances of these incongruous friendships.
It is usually denied that animals possess Conscientiousness, and probably most animals have a very weak idea of right and wrong; but so have many human beings, and some savages appear to be as destitute as the brutes, or more so; yet he would be a bold phrenologist who would deny their possession of this faculty in some degree. It is evidently by developing this organ that dogs, "those most Christian brutes," are trained to that wonderful fidelity which has always excited the admiration of mankind. They have been known to suffer the pangs of hunger rather than devour food they had been told to guard; to resist temptations to beguile them away and to endure inclement weather, harsh treatment, danger, and even death, rather than abandon their charge. Fidelity makes the pointer stand like a rock, though his lips water, his eyes gleam, and his nerves quiver with an intense desire to spring upon his quarry. It causes the retriever to conquer his natural instinct, and ofttimes a keen appetite as well, and bring the wounded bird without mutilation to his master's hand, and the watch-dog to guard his owner's property. This faculty is evidently at the bottom of those striking displays of shame and remorse, often manifested by dogs who have violated some domestic law or precept. The fact that the best dogs are owned by the kindest masters, shows that fear is not the underlying principle of this faithfulness, as many claim. A desire to do right in the eyes of his master—man—is evidently the dog's desire; but what more can be said of our Conscientiousness than that it is a desire to do right in the sight of our Master—God.
Very few persons, after a little reflection and observation, will doubt that animals have the rudiments of the intellectual powers. But in case there are such doubters, I will devote a brief space to an attempt to prove this fact. Most creatures possess Individuality or curiosity, and the hunter lures the distant antelope within gun-shot by displaying a flag or other strange object. Goats have great weight or balancing power. Color, Size and Form are of course as apparent to the brutes as to us, and their Locality is in some cases far superior to ours. The comb of the bee, the geometrical spider's web, and the symmetrical flight of the wild geese and cranes, are beautiful examples of Order. The following anecdote from Wood's "Natural History" illustrates Calculation: "George Le Roy states that a magpie having stolen some game, it was resolved to shoot it. A man hid himself in a hut near its nest for this purpose. The bird flew away when he entered, nor would return. The next day two men entered and one came out.
Magpie was not to be cheated; she waited till the second left also. Three went in and two came out, with the same result. Four then entered and three came away; the bird went back and was shot. So magpies, says George Le Roy, can count three, but not four."
Language and Tune need no comment, and birds, circus horses, etc., have been taught to keep excellent time to music. That animals have a memory, and an excellent one too—of facts and circumstances—is beyond doubt or cavil. Nor is Comparison wanting; the brutes compare good and evil treatment, heat and cold, comfort and discomfort, an inferior kind of food with a superior, and so on, in precisely the same way as we do. Causality is usually the stronghold of those who deny animal intelligence, and they assert, in spite of a thousand anecdotes to the contrary, that animals can not plan, reflect, devise, or reason from cause to effect. It is probably useless to argue with such, but I can not refrain from adducing a few illustrations for the benefit of those who may not be hardened in their convictions.
I have at present a dog who is usually allowed to remain in the house in cold weather. If accidentally or purposely shut out, he whines and scratches at the door in the usual canine way. If this does not secure admittance, he has recourse to the following extraordinary expedient. He rushes away from the door, and bays most furiously, as though confronting some intruder. But while barking so fiercely he keeps an amusingly close watch on the door, and the moment it is opened to discover the cause of the uproar, he bolts in, and complacently takes his place by the fire. Here is a remarkable combination of mental processes ; the dog comprehends his exclusion, remembers that barking has frequently caused the opening of the door before, cogitates, and finally develops and carries out, to a successful termination, a plan of deception which requires cunning, imagination, and histrionic talent of no slight degree. He appears to reason in this way—"I am shut out, but if I act as if some enemy approached—the cause—my master will open the door, and I shall be admitted—the desired effect."
We are told in "How to Read Character," that Causality consists partly in an "ability to adapt means to ends." This ability in animals has already been noticed, but proofs could be infinitely multiplied. The fox uses every means that his cunning and experience can suggest to throw his pursuers off the scent, such as burrowing in dung-hills, taking to water, doubling, leaping, etc. The beaver builds a straight dam in still waters, but where the current is more rapid the dam is convex, with the bow up stream, the convexity being proportioned to the force of the current. The woodman is proud of his skill in felling trees, but the beaver does it with equal nicety and certainty, dropping them in the right direction. And in the construction of their habitations, in decoying or chasing their prey, and in the various expedients for safety or defense, most animals exhibit an adaptation of means to ends but little inferior to the human.
J. WILLIAM LLOYD.