Devoted SocImages readers know that I will make any excuse to put up a video involving animals. I’m going to do it right now.
The video is a dolphin petting a cat. In the first part of the video, you’ll see the dolphin come out of the water and try to put his chin on the top of the cat’s head. In the second part of the video, you’ll see how the dolphin learned to do that. The cat very clearly wants to rub the top of his head, specifically, on the dolphin and the dolphin is paying attention and learning.
This isn’t just adorable interspecies communication, it’s proto-culture. It’s the transmission of an idea. I don’t know if all the dolphins in this video pet the cat this way, or if it’s just one dolphin, but I can certainly imagine one dolphin teaching the next, just as the cat taught the first dolphin.
Or, to put it more simply, humans aren’t special because we’re humans, were special because we’re animals.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.