Science Gets Closer To Discovering How Animals Express Emotions

<p> Rod Waddington / <a href="" target="_blank">Flickr</a> (<a href="" target="_blank">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>) </p>

Writer and life-coach Tony Robbins said that, "to effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others."

Indeed, communication, an essential tool for social beings, is part of a complex sphere that counts with different levels, perspectives, and systems. One of them happens to be non-verbal communication, where an individual communicates throughout his body, senses, and expressions. This type of communication is open to more species than the human race, so we encounter a whole, mysterious animal world with loads of unique communication systems.

Investigations in the fields of ethology, primatology, anthropology, psychology, and even communications, have proved that certain species have developed a quite complex communication interface. That is because of their cognitive and emotional capacity; of the size of their brains; and of their proximity to men in the evolutionary scale. Some of these species are dolphins, cetaceans, elephants, and primates.

The study of how animals communicate has been an important topic these last decades. Psychologists are still looking for universal laws on behavior, ergo, those actions and demeanors that can be found in many different species.

The science in charge of studying animals' communication interfaces is zoosemiotics. Inside this science, we also find zoosemantics, which believes all animals are social beings with their own communications, characteristics, and limits. It is throughout these that they display their mood, emotions like fear or happiness, and biological states.

Precisely the differences and similarities between humans and animals are what make zoosemantics such a fascinating science. Whilst men have a double-articulated language, animals articulate a simple system based on reactions to different stimuli.

Animals use their sensitivity and the five senses - smell, touch, sight, hearing, and taste - to both send and receive messages. Hence, they use four communication spheres or systems; the chemical sphere, the optical sphere, the tactile sphere, and the acoustic sphere. These allow them to capture smells and movements, hear strangers getting close, perceive light's intensity. At the same time, through smells, expressions, sounds and movements, they can also send messages to other animals.

Among all mammals, superior apes (especially chimpanzees) are those with a most expressive face, with a surprisingly wide range of grimaces and gestures.

Originally posted in The Dragon Whisperer .