It's 7.00 p.m. one weekday evening and you settle in front of the television to watch a wildlife programme. The whispering tones of David Attenborough tells you about some animal you've never heard of before and you watch the screen in rapt fascination until he says the following:
"The thigh muscle of the Three-toed Armadillo Antelope is four times as strong as that of a human."
At which point you switch over to Emmerdale instead.
I know it's only natural for us to compare other animals to ourselves but why are the comparisons always in favour of them rather than us? We are told that a hawk can see better than us, a dog can smell better than us and a cat can hear better than us. Then there's the weight that an ant can carry, the height a flea can jump and the speed a cheetah can run. All of them better than us, size for size. I don't ever recall being told that humans are great because we can cook better eggs than sheep can.
Why is that you rarely see programmes about the special talents of the human being? (Yes, alright, I'm conveniently ignoring all the programmes do deal with just that subject, for the purpose of this series.)
To right this wrong I am going to write a few posts about the stuff that we can do that no animal can do better than us (disclaimer: as far as I know ;-) ). And I'm not talking about the obvious things, like how I'm able to sit here composing posts for my blog when man's best friend can only sit and lick his bollocks (although having seen some of the blogs out there, I'm not so sure).
Nor will I write specifically about intelligence, though we are clearly more intelligent than all other animals, with the exception of cows, who are just lulling us into a false sense of security with they're stupid mooing and cud chewing until the moment is right for them to take over the world. I mean, have you seen what they get up to in the Dairylea ads?
Anyway, it's the innate abilities that I'm more interested in, the things we do by instinct rather than logical thought. So, starting here tomorrow will be my 'Human' series.