I was so excited to read Oberliessen et al.’s paper in this month’s Animal Behaviour issue. Their study shows that rats understand fairness. “Our findings are consistent with the notion that a sense of fairness may have evolved long before humans emerged. [It] may therefore be a basic organizational principle, shared by many social sp
ecies, that shapes the intricate social dynamics of individuals interrelating in larger groups” (Oberliessen et al. 2016).
This takes me back to a eureka moment when I was an undergraduate in Patty Gowaty’s animal behavior class. We read Frans de Waal’s book Our Inner Ape, which convinced me that primates follow the golden rule and have a sense of morality. Wow! Primates and now rats are “moral.” How specialare humans after all?