Are humans animals like any other? Through species that populate our imaginations, our apartments and our forests, "Libé" explores the evolution of our relationship with pets. What if bears, dogs, and other pigs helped us rethink our relationship with nature and redefine words like "intelligence" or "humanity"? Find all the interviews of our series "Animals and men" published in recent days in the pages Ideas of Libe.
Baptiste Morizot: "On the trail of the wolf, the man, devoid of nose, must awaken the eye that sees the invisible, the eye of the spirit"
"I'm not misanthropic at all, I love humans, they are the most interesting animals. On the contrary, sensitivity and availability to other living beings produce emancipating effects on human relations. This makes us, I hope, "better human" because it is a way of forgetting one's ego. And not in sacrificial forms, but rather as one forgets one's umbrella. Just because the others are much more interesting. […] For two million years, humans had to investigate to find food, follow tracks for hours, decode tracks, who was the animal, where he was going, what he was doing. These capacities of decryption, of reasoning were valorized by the evolution in such a way that they were sedimented in us. And today, they are available for us to do anything else: all possible investigations, for example in science and the arts.[…] As frugivorous primates become carnivorous omnivores, we have been forced to track our lack of sense of smell by developing cognitive abilities of a different degree from those of our primate cousins. Without a nose, we had to awaken the eye that sees the invisible, the eye of the spirit. "
Michel Pastoureau: "The cousin between the man and the pig is the source of food bans that target this too human animal"
"In the northern hemisphere, we can say that already five hundred years before our era, pork plays a very important role in the imagination and the representations of many peoples, especially in Europe Germans and Celts. Not only the wild pork but also the domestic pig. For Greek medicine, then Roman, there is already the idea of an anatomical and physiological cousin between man and pig. But we must wait until the Middle Ages and the great Arab medicine for this idea to be expressed more clearly. For their part, Christian writers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries recognize three animals as "cousins of man". First, the bear, which resembles it externally. Then the pig, which looks like it inside. To the extent that the Church forbids the dissection of the human body, in medical schools, human anatomy is studied from the dissection of the boar or the sow, with the idea that "all is identical "(which fully confirms our knowledge of the 21st century). Finally, there is a third "cousin of man": the monkey. But here, all the authors specify that in fact the monkey does not look like the man at all, but it is so diabolical that it pretends to resemble him. It was not until the eighteenth century that the idea of a resemblance between the monkey and the man made a comeback. "
Rémy Marion: "The bear is as unpredictable as a human, and that is perhaps what is scary!"
"Overall, the relationship between the bear and the human is rather appeased. But the bear is as unpredictable as a human, and maybe that's scary! In general, they are very pragmatic in their relationships. They avoid us, do not seek conflict or useless confrontation, and if they cross us, they will try to peacefully negotiate a passage. Often, they are in the vicinity without us being able to locate them, they are there without being there. In some areas, humans and bears live together very well. In Kamchatka, women pick blueberries at the same place and at the same time as bears, without any problem. These women and these bears do and eat the same thing. But beware, as in humans, you can very well fall on a psychopath who will prefer to attack you.
See the slideshow "Bear dreams" from Kyriakos Kaziras
Eric Baratay: "The cat will supplant the dog, but he must turn into a cat-dog"
"A very important change has been taking place in the last twenty years, which comes first from Anglo-Saxon countries: the desire to turn cats into dogs. Cats are now being asked what pet dogs were asked a century ago. They need to be much more players, closer, more interactive. Today, we can see cats suffering from the separation anxiety that dogs already knew. This is a new symptom in the cat. In some Anglo-Saxon countries, cats are kept on a leash, as was done for dogs in the early twentieth century. The trend began in New Zealand, then spread to the United States, arriving very recently in the United Kingdom. This should logically extend to the European continent shortly. Internet chat videos define very well our new expectations. They must play, be affectionate, sociable … Breeders select litters and crosses in this way. Even in shelters, we know that adoptions will be favored by greater sociability. Many animal welfare associations know this and ensure that kittens are first taken into foster care. "
Emmanuelle Pouydebat: "Animals represent models and solutions for us"
"It is not so much the observation of animals that will allow us to reacquire faculties that we may have lost. The important question is that of the relationship with our environment. The first humans needed much more of their senses to locate food, find partners, flee predators, orient themselves. Certain areas of the brain, related to smell, are in these contexts much more mobilized. We probably have them again, and we could perhaps remobilize them depending on the circumstances. But the use of these abilities does not condition anymore our survival. If I make a mistake, I probably will not die. For an animal in the wild, it's different. "
Laurent Testot: "The dog is like a wolf infantilized for life"
"Dogs are like eternal teenagers. It takes generations and generations before the wolf becomes a dog, with very juvenile characteristics, such as small teeth, drooping ears, a shorter snout, large eyes, less body build and above all puppy behavior or of young dog. Barking is a neotenic (juvenile) trait of the wolf. The wolf barks only when he is a wolf cub. The barking is a complaint, a cry for help. We need to select individuals with juvenile behaviors to better dominate and train them. The dog is like a wolf infantilized for life. "