School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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Why is Rudolp's nose red?

How are humans different from other animals?

There are many similarities between humans and other animals that I am sure you have noticed. Humans and animals both eat, sleep, think and communicate (imagine a dog barking to communicate that he is hungry or wants to play). Although there are things in common I am sure you have noticed differences as well between people and, say, dogs and cats. But what are these differences?

Animals can consist of many different species of creatures (dogs, cats, elephants, spiders, etc.). Humans, on the other hand, refer to only a single species called Homo sapiens. Some people think that a main difference between humans (or Homo sapiens) and those other animal species is our ability of complex reasoning, our use of language (instead of, for example, just barking), our ability to solve difficult problems (like your math homework problems), and introspection (this means describing your own thoughts and feelings). We are able to do a lot of this because humans have a highly developed brain that allows us to do many of the things other animals cannot.

So a difference between humans and animals is the combination of our complex reasoning, our use of language, our ability to solve difficult problems and introspection. These are things that some say are the difference between human life and other animal life.

Question From: Malcolm
Grade Level: 10

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Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.