It is absolutely astonishing how many people are still convinced that animals are lesser creatures than humans and lack a soul. Of course, there are philosophers, theologians, and scientists who adhere to a hierarchy of nature, and they have no trouble finding others to agree with their lamentable lack of respect for animals of all kinds.

Thank goodness for sensitive and compassionate writers like Virginia Morell, a prolific contributor to National Geographic, Science, and Smithsonian, among other publications. She has written a stunning volume charting the latest research on wild and domestic animal cognition and emotions. In laboratories and field sites around the world, scientists and researchers are discovering the multiple abilities of animals. There is ample proof that they have memories, feelings, and self-awareness.

Among the discoveries shared by Morell are that ants can teach, earthworms are capable of making decisions, dolphins are self-aware, rats enjoy being tickled, dogs have thousand-word vocabularies, crows improvise tools, blue jays plan ahead, and moths recall living as caterpillars. Studies have shown that chimpanzees grieve the loss of loved ones, and so do elephants that are being slaughtered for the ivory in their tusks. Those who have survived evidence something akin to traumatic stress syndrome.