What Are Animals Really Thinking? Author Explores Hidden World


In her book “Animal Wise,” Virginia Morell gets inside our fellow creatures’ heads.

Animals like this Belgian Malois "aren't just robots—they truly are living, sentient beings," says the author. PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT CLARK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Animals like this Belgian Malois “aren’t just robots—they truly are living, sentient beings,” says the author.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT CLARK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Christine Dell’Amore National Geographic

What do animals think and feel? This question, which has long intrigued science writer and author Virginia Morell, is explored in her new book Animal Wise.

Partly inspired by her 2008 National Geographic magazine article, “Animal Minds,” the book was just named a finalist for the 2013 L.A. Times Book Prize in Science and Technology.

From ants that teach, to earthworms that make decisions, to rats that love to be tickled, Morell aims to reshape our understanding of animals and their emotions. For the book, she shadowed several innovative scientists investigating the animal psyche, focusing on well-known species such as dolphins and the domestic dog.

We caught up with Morell to ask her about her book and what she wants us to know about what’s going on in an animal’s head.

How did this book come about?

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