Top Of The Food Chain? Humans Can Learn Much From Animals


Sometimes I wax philosophical. Lots of people do this. They wonder about the universe and the meaning of it all. Why is there life? Why are we here? What does it all mean?

But I already have the answers for all the big questions, so I choose to ponder the smaller things — things like, just who do we think we are? (And how it should really be “whom” but nobody says that.)

I mean, all my life I have heard that human beings are at the top of the food chain supposedly because we can kill and eat anything we want to. Big whoop. Since when did being a successful marauder make you No. 1? Is the ability to triumph in war, win at sporting contests and head up large corporations really all that it takes to define success? We may think so, but only because we are compelled to see the world through the eyes of a human.

Do you know what the lowly ant thinks about world domination, Olympic champions and CEOs? Not much. In fact, nothing. All that matters to the lowly ant is getting a gigantic grain of sand from one place to another. In the ant’s world, moving that sand is the most important thing. Can a human hoist up a rock 100 times its weight? No, it cannot. Can it move that rock, upside down, across a span 20 times longer than its own length? No, it cannot. Does it even know enough to hang onto others of its species to form a raft that will allow it to survive the fiercest hurricane? No, it does not. So, from the ant’s point of view, human beings are fairly stupid, useless creatures who ignorantly take out whole communities with a single footstep. Hardly worth bragging about. Not only that, but there are only about 8 billion people on earth, as opposed to a quadrillion ants. So, who’s dominant now?

And what about the honeybee, an insect that never sleeps? In its world, any gigantic, plodding creature who needs to sleep, can’t fly and needs a computer to create a mathematically perfect honeycomb isn’t even worth discussing.

Worried about air quality? A scorpion can hold its breath for a week.

Feeling chilly? Frogs and lobsters can freeze without dying.

Gas prices got you down? A butterfly can migrate 3,000 miles without a fill-up.

Got an itch? The stripes of a zebra repel bugs.

Hungry? A tarantula can live two years without food.

Steak too tough? A grizzly bear can bite a bowling ball in half.

And cats only bother meowing when trying to communicate with humans.

But I don’t want you feeling inadequate. Like I said, I’ve already figured out the answer to the big questions (Why is there life? Why are we here? What does it all mean?) and here they are — “because,” “because” and “not much.”

Kinds of puts things in perspective.