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Are Humans Considered Animals?

Updated on February 7, 2015
Animals include birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, insects and other invertebrates.
Animals include birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, insects and other invertebrates. | Source

The Debate: Are we animals or not?

The heated argument whether humans are animals or not, surprisingly doesn't have a simple answer. This interesting debate has raged on for decades. Let's take a look at both sides of the debate. One side believes that humans are animals, referring to evolution and classification of organisms. The other believes that we are not animals, because of religious beliefs or superiority. In many ways, we are animals but in other ways, we are not. Let's take a closer look at the debate and both of the sides.

Dictionary definition

Before we jump into the wild, crazy arguments, an interesting solution is to look up the dictionary. After searching through many dictionaries, there are two different definitions.

"Human" is sometimes defined as, "a human being, especially a person as distinguished from an animal". On the other hand, it can also be defined as, "an animal belonging to the primate family".

Interestingly, "animal" is defined as "a living thing that is not a human or a plant" in one of the dictionaries. In another dictionary, an animal is "a living thing that is not a plant".

We have two definitions supporting both sides of the argument which makes it difficult to summarise from just the dictionary.

Some dictionaries claim that humans are distinguished from animals.
Some dictionaries claim that humans are distinguished from animals. | Source
Classification of Humans.
Classification of Humans. | Source

Why are we animals?

On one side of this debate, people suggest that we are animals. For one reason, we share common ancestors with animals, so there are no reasons why we are any different from them. We evolved from animals, therefore making us an animal too.

Another reason is that we belong to the kingdom, "Animalia". In the classification of organisms, all creatures fall under a kingdom. As the name might suggest, all animals are in the "Animalia" kingdom. Homo sapiens is only a species, let alone a kingdom.

As you can see from the picture, we belong to the same Kingdom as all other animals, which makes us animals. All organisms belong to a Kingdom, whether that may be Animalia (animals), Plantae (plants), Fungi, Protista (Protist), Archaea and Bacteria. Humans have to fit into one of these groups and it is obvious that we are closest to animals (not plants or bacteria). We couldn't be in a separate Kingdom because we have evolved from the same ancestors as apes which are also animals.

Why are we not animals?

On the other side of this debate, some people refuse to consider themselves animals. The supporting reasons range from references to The Holy Bible, God, other religions and simply superiority.

Some people say that we are somehow "better" or "more superior" than animals. We have developed a way more advanced brain that is able to calculate harder calculations with better speed. The smartest animals can only count whereas the smartest humans are able to explore more advanced areas of science and mathematics.

Many people also say that we have the ability to create way more advanced things. For example, humans have created virtual networks, various machines, robots, smartphones, building, roads and pavements. Our power to surf the Internet might separate us from animals that are yet to use simple tools.

Many religions believe that humans are not animals. For example, a lot of Christians reference to The Holy Bible and state that God made us different from animals. Other religions also believe that we are distinguished or more superior than animals.

People on this side usually reference to The Holy Bible.
People on this side usually reference to The Holy Bible. | Source

Do you think we are animals?

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The Conclusion of the Debate

Although humans are 100% animals if we look at it scientifically, the debate does not settle just by looking at the science. The debate still rages on and ultimately, it comes down to personal opinion and beliefs.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and religion and it is important to respect others' views and perspectives. Personally, I believe we are animals because we are just like any other primates. No matter how advanced we become, we still trace back to the ancestor that we share with any other organism on this planet.


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      Francis 16 months ago

      Humans are not animals because we were created in the image of God and God is not an animal. Saying that Humans are animals would be the same as saying that God is an animal.

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      Corey 20 months ago

      Yes, this is quite an interesting topic. I believe humans are just as 'animal' than any other non-human. Yeah, sure, we got clothing, higher awareness, advanced technology, language and complex societies, but what about the people with pathological cognitive dysfunctions or mental disabilities. They're humans who can't surf the web, write stories, or possibly comprehend on what 'normal' humans can understand, yet we see them just like any other human. I think humans and possibly other species probably distinguish themselves from others as a survival instint or tactic. We obviously see ourselves as different lifeforms, but on a larger canvas, we're just a classification.

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      Palis Pisuttisarun 2 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hi DannoMan.

      I agree with every word of your comment. Some of us are oblivious towards how special other animals are. We simply think they are normal simply because they don't surf the Internet.

      I also particularly agree with how you said we only appear different in our own view. Other animals wouldn't see us as being any different.

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      DannoMan 2 years ago

      The science is really quite clear on this. There is no debate. The only "side" that is debating is the same "side" that chooses to attempt refutation of overwhelming scientific inquiry on the subjects of human impact on climate change, a helio-centric solar system, and a spherical Earth.

      The flat Earth group and the Earth-centered Universe group have pretty much been silenced, these days.

      It is no more than a side note that humans appear different from animals in some ways. But the note needs to have an asterisk. We appear different from animals from our own perspective. We have no other perspective from which to view the situation. Mentally, we are capable of things none of the rest of the Animal Kingdom seem able to do. But just when you get comfortable with that apparent distinction, up come examples like the schooling of fish and the synchronized flocking of birds to point out how certain animals can do things we have no clue about.