Carl Safina: “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel”

Thank you, Carl Safina for, as a scientist, writing about what is so obvious to many of us who have come to know wild animals by spending hours observing them.

I’ve been studying coyotes for almost a decade now, and I see some pretty basic similarities between ourselves and our lives, and the lives of coyotes. They are immensely social, they mate for life, they have rivalries and joys, they tease each other, they play, they work together, they care for and take care of each other, both parents raise the young and spend a huge amount of time teaching them how to be successful in their environments, they show immense affection . . . and anger, they have agendas, they defend their turf, they have territories from which other coyotes are excluded. They even play tricks on each other. Each coyote has his/her own unique personality and characteristics and no two are alike. I, as Carl, have been delving into “WHO” these animals are — as a species and as individuals. Please read these reviews about Carl’s book, and then delve into the book itself!


Humans Aren’t Special: Carl Safina’s “Beyond Words” Delves Deep Into Animal Minds:

Carl Safina Makes A Case for Anthropomorphism.  The marine biologist’s latest book uses science to show that animals, like people, have complex inner lives:

“I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so-close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you?”

Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina’s landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and nonhuman animals. In Beyond Words, readers travel to Amboseli National Park in the threatened landscape of Kenya and witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then to Yellowstone National Park to observe wolves sort out the aftermath of one pack’s personal tragedy, and finally plunge into the astonishingly peaceful society of killer whales living in the crystalline waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Beyond Words brings forth powerful and illuminating insight into the unique personalities of animals through extraordinary stories of animal joy, grief, jealousy, anger, and love. The similarity between human and nonhuman consciousness, self-awareness, and empathy calls us to re-evaluate how we interact with animals. Wise, passionate, and eye-opening at every turn, Beyond Words is ultimately a graceful examination of humanity’s place in the world.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ella Dine
    Jan 11, 2016 @ 21:05:52

    This looks fantastic–cannot wait to read! I have a question that may be of the “unanswerable” variety, but I am so curious what your take is. This morning, my pup and I were in the local, heavily-wooded park long before sunrise due to my work schedule, and a very loud, close siren went by. I was delighted and surprised to hear a cacophony of coyote howls accompany the siren from the wooded area–the coyotes were so intense and, as is sometimes the case with a small few, they sounded a hundred deep, so my pup smartly went in the other direction. I started to wonder why coyotes react so strongly, in your opinion, to sirens. I’ve read that they might hurt their ears, but I suspect something else, and wonder if you’ve ever observed this behavior and could make a guess at the reason for it. Thanks much!!


  2. Ella Dine
    Jan 26, 2016 @ 00:00:58

    Thank you so much, Janet. I just love this blog. I am pretty sure that you are a reincarnated coyote, or perhaps you are just a very technically savvy coyote pretending to be a human. :)


    • yipps
      Jan 26, 2016 @ 01:04:29

      Wonderful compliment — thank you! I’m super pleased that you’re enjoying and learning from the blog! Janet

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