From the biological classification viewpoint, all animals belong to the class known as Animalia. These are mainly Eutherians, Cetacea, Prototheria, Mollusca, Squid, Arachnida, Bilabialis, and Scaphatheria. All animals are semi-aquatic and belong to the Phylum Chordata. Most animals are homotropical (cold-blooded), eutherian (warm-blooded), or have an oviparous function (if an egg cell has not developed).
The study of animal minds has been a mainstay of anthropology and ethology for decades now. Some recent research programs focus on whether animal minds are rational. Are animal minds similar to humans in their mental processes? What is the relationship between animal cognition and intelligence? If animal cognition is indeed rational, then it follows that intelligent non-human animals possess some level of animal minds.
Much research is currently being conducted on animals’ minds and cognitive abilities. Researchers are looking at how animals’ brains organize space, make use of objects, remember information, and so forth. Animals do in fact exhibit many of the same types of cognitive functions as humans do. Researchers believe that many of these similarities can be explained through evolution and further study. There is a lot of literature out there on this topic.
One popular area of research concerns the connection between the brain and animals’ heads. Since the brainstem controls all the functions of the animal body, it is typically examined in animals’ skulls. Although the actual function of the brain is unknown in most animals, it is generally assumed that the animal brain does interact with the animal head. This is a common observation in fish and amphibians, where the brain is separate from the mouth and eyes.
A number of theories have been put forth to explain the connection between animals and their cognitive abilities. Some researchers think that animals are simply clever animals who have to use abstract thought processes to solve complex problems. Others think that animals are capable of reason and creativity but are just less successful at communicating that reasoning to other animals. Still others believe that animals have evolved over time to adapt to their environment and cognitive demands. Whatever the theory is, the goal is to understand more about how animals think.
Many studies of animal behavior are done in laboratories and parks. Although most animal behavior research is on humans, it is important to study the behavior of animals when their brain activity is stimulated. Some of the more interesting areas of research include studying what happens in an animal’s brain when it is suffering from memory loss, or learning how certain animals can solve problems by using body movements or their vocal cords.