Does your dog ever melt your heart with a sweet smile? Does your cat ever get grumpy and start acting like a brat? Do you ever catch your lizard sipping a pina colada under the heat lamp? People tend to forget that humans and animals are all members of one big family. Therefore, it’s no coincidence we sometimes behave like animals, and they often behave like us.
Somewhere in the tree of life, humans and every other creature on the planet have a common ancestor. Some are more recent, others are farther back. For example, we are even cousins with snakes and fish! What’s really cool is when we see animals acting like humans (the other way around is less cool…) In this article, we show you amazing pictures of animals behaving like humans, and the intriguing reasons behind it. Enjoy!
Apes, Monkeys, and Humans Are Pretty Much First Cousins
When considering apes, monkeys, and humans, it’s not a stretch to see how we’re related. We all have thumbs, we all like getting haircuts (grooming), we all have tight-knit family structures, and we all love bananas. We’re sure that if apes and monkeys had the same cognitive capacity as humans they would be blown away by stuff like banana bread and banana smoothies. Yum.
It’s no surprise though – humans, apes, and monkeys are actually not too distant cousins on the tree of life. They behave similarly to us. They go to business meetings, they fly on airplanes, they… Just kidding. But seriously, they do behave like us more than meets the eye. Monkeys and Apes, for example, live in societies with a “top-dog”, meaning a guy who is the leader and can boss everyone else around. Ring any bells?
Feeling a Bit Stressed Out? Our Hairy Cousins Know How You Feel
Many different types of apes and monkeys live in a troop with a bossy-pants leader at the top. Under the leader, other members of the troop are subordinate. Amazingly, scientists have shown that members of the troop who are lower in the hierarchy are more stressed out. Whoa! This is pretty much exactly like humans. No one likes having a bossy-pants manager telling you what to do and calling dips on your bananas.
Also, what makes a good leader among apes and monkeys, are social skills and charisma. It’s not just how big and tough you are. The same goes for us. Look at Mark Zuckerberg. That dude is no Arnold Schwarzenegger, but there he is, using his brain and social magic to lead one of the world’s largest communities. Such is the case for apes and monkeys. Usually, it’s the ones that are the best at making friends and forming bonds that reach the top.
Dogs Talk to Us a Lot More Than We Think
Ever get home, see a huge mess made by your dog, and then find them looking up at you with a face that is a mixture of shame and pure cuteness? Yes, this is extremely adorable and disarming, but there’s also a reason behind it. Dogs are one of the only species that use facial expressions as a means of communication.
Dogs have figured out (they are geniuses in their own special way) that when humans communicate, our faces do a lot more than produce words. So, over the millennia, they’ve figured out that if they want to get a point across, they have to play our game. And it works! It’s pretty much impossible to not give your furry buddy a snack when he or she is at the table begging with tears in their eyes.
If It Weren’t for Some “Creative Differences”, Bears and Humans Would Be Great Dinner Companions
Honey, salmon, berries, steak, roots, vegetables, is there something on this menu that you’re not in to? Well, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, that’s understandable. But otherwise, these things probably sound tasty. Most bears would agree with you on that. Like humans, bears are omnivorous.
They eat pretty much any food they can find, from any category. Of course, most some bears can be over 1000 pounds, so these big boys and girls need to really get that grub down in large quantities. Don’t be too quick to invite a bear out for a meal though. They love meat, and you wouldn’t want to make the transition from having dinner to being dinner.
Cats Can Be Chill, Cats Can Be Difficult, but They Love Having the Choice
Cats are people too! Well, not really, but they are certainly individuals with unique personalities. Some cats are grumpy, some are cheery, and some of their traits are remarkably similar to those of humans. Unlike dogs, who are almost always down to play and cuddle, cats value their personal space. And they spend a lot of their day lounging around, so a good paw-picked chill spot is important for them.
Also, some studies have shown that when it comes to training these cute little felines, it’s more effective when we give them a choice. For example, when you’re taking your cat to the vet, chances are he or she will probably be happier and more cooperative if you put him or her in the cat carrier with the top removed.
Whales and Humans Can Live in Any Neighborhood
Ok, you’re right. I don’t think we would find a whale living in downtown Minneapolis. But then again, you won’t a human living at the edge of the Mariana Trench. Jokes aside, one of the things (among many) that humans and whales share is that their populations are distributed throughout the whole world. The difference is that we are on land, and they are at sea.
Humans live on every continent and have adapted to incredibly diverse conditions. We roam the deserts, walk around in the jungle, scurry around the city, and even live in ice houses. Whales, too, are super diverse. They can be found in the waters around every continent, and they adapt to a vast array of different under-water conditions.
Baboons and Other Apes Get Jealous and Can Be Pretty Nasty
Surely this cute baboon here who is sitting down and snacking on a popsicle cannot be nasty, right? Wrong. Baboons and lots of other apes and monkeys can be violent, thieving, and conniving towards each other. Does this behavior remind you of any other five-fingered species? Anyone?
Apes can suffer when other apes treat them badly. This could mean anything from picking fights, to taking the best chill spots, to stealing bananas. If one male baboon seas another with a big bunch of bananas or a female whom he is crushing on, he might get extremely jealous. He might lash out and do something about it right then and there. But, alternatively, he might act like he’s sweeping it under the rug, and then later get revenge.
Elephants Will Surprise You When It Comes to Humanness
They say that the human brain is the most complex material in the universe (as far as we know). But if that’s true, elephant brains cannot be too far behind. Honestly, the list of crazy human-like behavior these huge ladies and gents exhibit is insane. Alas, they have perfected the wondrous technology we humans call the “chair.” Just like humans, elephant kids stay with their mommies until a late age, even sometimes until they’re 18!
But the similarities get even more fascinating. Some research has shown that even in terms of culture, humans and elephants can be very alike. For example, when an elephant passes away in the wild, its family and friends have a little ceremony. In some ways, this is totally their version of a funeral.
When the Working Day Is Done, Oh Dogs, They Just Wanna Have Fun
Like humans, dogs are social. They evolved in packs and they depend on one another for survival and companionship. But when your dog punches out, gets his coat, and leaves the office, what does he do next? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, dogs love to have a good time. Like us, there are a ton of activities dogs like to do just to have a good time and live a good life. This list includes socializing, jumping, swimming, and playing, to name a few.
And believe it or not, some research has even shown that dogs like listening to music. A 2017 study by the University of Glasgow and other collaborators suggested that dogs are happier when they are listening to reggae or light rock. They suggest musically entertaining your dog with Bob Marley rather than Bach or Mozart. Nice.
Sloths Manage to Somehow Get a Bad Reputation, Even Though They’re Adorable
People usually think of sloths as being lazy and slow. In many languages, in fact, the word “sloth” is actually synonymous with laziness. In reality, although they are (purposefully) slow as a means of camouflage, they are sensitive creatures and we should really try hard to not think of them as being lazy. Humans often suffer from anxiety. We have bills to pay, work to do, things to sort out, etc.
Sloths also undergo stress and anxiety. It’s been shown that when something negative happens, like a change in their habitat, they can get really sad, anxious, and scared. When this happens, they like to hide out by climbing up in a tree and hanging upside down. When we get stressed, we also like to get away and go hang out to feel better.
Penguins Are on the Lookout for a Life-Long Partner
These beautiful little waddling birds can’t fly. But what they lack in aerodynamics, they make up for in cuteness. These little guys have penetrated our culture – they have inspired movies, characters, video games, songs, and more. Sure, they’re a lot different than us, the “smart” hairy bipeds. But they also have some striking similarities to us.
Like us, penguins like to have one reliable, life-long partner. In contrast with other animals, like gorillas or Bengal tigers, penguins want to be with “the one.” Note also that some people compare humans to penguins by saying “Hey, look, both species wear tuxedos!” True, but we think the penguins wear it better. After all, a human dressed in a tux isn’t likely to go fishing and swimming in it.
A Bear on a Bench: It’s Too Cute, We Almost Can’t “Bear” It
Animal puns aside, bears are awesome creatures. In medieval times, it was very controversial to draw any parallels between man and animal (we guess medieval haters wouldn’t be too happy with us and our article then). But bears were sort of an exception because people took note of the glaring similarities easily. In addition to their human-similar omnivorous diet, bears have lots of other things in common with us.
They can stand on two feet. They grasp and throw objects, they can climb, they can dance. When they eat, they often like to take a seat and chill. When they walk, they plant their entire foot on the ground. It’s even been shown that bears can sometimes open latches and doors. If we were in a cabin with a bear outside, we would hope that that last part is fake news though…
Cats Can Do It All! They Can Even Become Celebrities
Cats and humans have been hanging out as buddies for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians even had a feline goddess, named Bastet, whom they worshipped. Some things never change. Today, we also have a cat diety. Her name is Tardar Sauce, a.k.a. Grumpy Cat. You see, just like human celebs, cats can take over the internet!
No, but seriously, internet icons notwithstanding, cats are remarkably similar to humans in many ways. For example, both species find special comfort in familiarity. Starting a new job or moving to a new city can be hard for us. Such is the case for cats: they are extremely sensitive to changes in their immediate environment. So sensitive, in fact, that when faced with sudden changes, cats often lash out by making a huge mess.
Ahh, Chimpanzees, Our Closest Relatives
Chimps are wild, intelligent and amazingly human-like creatures. First of all, it’s a well-documented fact that we share about 98.6% of our DNA with chimps. That’s not surprising, considering we have pretty much the same bones, muscles, nervous systems, and number of fingers and toes as them.
They can recognize themselves in the mirror, they’re capable of abstraction, and they even laugh when tickled! Amazing, and extremely cute. They spend most of their lives (as we do) trying to cultivate healthy relationships with friends and family members. When trying to things done around their house (is that what we call a chimp abode?), they often use tools. Really, they’re so similar to us.
Besides Being Psychics, Octopuses Are Incredibly Human-Like
In 2010, scientists enlisted Paul the octopus to try and predict the World Cup. Hahaha, yeah right. But what? He actually did it! They gave him boxes labeled with colors representing the teams. Somehow, maybe by pure chance, Paul actually correctly predicted the winners. Stunning, creepy, weird, awesome – lots of words describe this situation.
That story is crazy, and markedly not human-like. But generally speaking, octopuses have some fascinating similarities to humans. Although it’s not been confirmed 100%, it seems that they have advanced eyes (like us) and can see color. They’re able to open jars and use some tools. For example, scientists have seen some octopuses use various shells for protection. Cool!
Pandas Might Be Closer to Us Than We Think
Indeed, it has by now been well established that our closest relatives are chimpanzees, and after that come other kinds of big apes and monkeys. But what about panda bears? These majestic vegetarian cuties are really cool and beautiful. Are they also more similar to humans than we originally thought? Apparently, yes.
Here’s the reason: pandas and humans love bamboo. They eat it raw, and we love the shoots in a stirfry. Just playin’, the similarities run deeper than that. Most mammals spend their days on all fours. At some point, we humans stood up. It turns out that pandas also don’t spend most of their time on all fours. They are often seated in a comfy spot, picking at bamboo plants. Or they can often be seen standing up, looking for juicy leaves.
33,000 Years of Friendship – No Wonder We’re Similar
Dogs and humans have been friends for dozens of thousands of years. Yeah, peeps and K9s go way back. That’s why, on some levels, it’s not surprising that we can behave similarly. Look at this adorable pup down below for an example. She’s clearly been having so much fun that she needed to take an emergency nap on her desk. It happens to the best of us…
Do you know the saying “every dog has its day”? Well, what’s also true to say is “every dog has its preferences.” Dogs have really well-defined personal preferences when it comes to toys, foods, resting places, and people. Every dog is different. Also, as you’ve probably noticed, dogs have truly unique personalities.
This Chimp Is Redefining What It Means to Be an Animal
Ladies and gentlemen, this picture is deep. What we see here is a Chimpanzee studied by the ape expert legend Robert Sapolsky. He noticed that over and over again, over the course of many years, this female chimp had a piece of grass hanging out of her ear. When the piece of grass would fall out and get lost, she would find another one and stick it in her ear. Why would she do that? It certainly doesn’t serve any practical purpose.
What’s the conclusion? She uses it as jewelry. Wow, that’s mind-blowing! This implies that chimps actually have a sense of style and that they think about things that are beyond their immediate survival needs. Next stop: a shopping spree in New York! If chimps are now into jewelry, what’s next for them? Wielding fire? Discovering agriculture? Founding a startup?
Cats and Humans: Closer Than We Realize
Ok ok, when we look at cats and humans, on the surface it seems like we’re way different. They have fur we don’t (well, at least some of us don’t). Cats have sharp teeth and claws, we have nails that seem to just get in the way, and we have good teeth for chomping (not piercing). Also, cats and humans are both pretty good at getting on the computer and watching YouTube. Just messin’ around, but this little kitty below makes us wonder.
No, but for real, cats and animals have some striking anatomical similarities. We both have what’s called a “four-chambered heart.” Also, both cats and humans have very similar lungs, ours are just way bigger. Both cats and humans prefer to do their “business” in private in a designated spot. We’re not so different after all.
Nikolai the Bashful Walrus?
Sometimes people get a little carried away with attributing human emotions to animals. This has gotten people in all sorts of crazy trouble. Just think of the nature-loving researcher who comes to believe that the bears he studies are his friends. That’s a big no-no. But often, animals really make us wonder.
Walruses are awesome creatures, and emotionally they are similar to us in many ways. They have very complex feelings, they are passionate about protecting their offspring and will do anything for them. When we see walruses in the wild, they are usually hanging out with hundreds of other walruses on a big chunk of ice – so they like to chill. And, maybe, they love cake, and can get a little embarrassed by too much attention!
From Salmon to Newspapers
On one hand, bears are thought of as dangerous – the last thing you would want to run into when you’re on a camping trip. On the other hand, we think of them as cute and cuddly. It’s no coincidence that the iconic children’s toy is the teddy bear. So we seem to have a strong fascination with these awesome creatures (maybe especially that they can now read the paper).
Maybe, it’s partly because they’re similar to us in lots of ways. Studies have shown, for example, that they’re particularly good at tasks involving color. Also, when it comes to shapes, bears know their way around the block: they can distinguish between different shapes, like triangles, circles, and squares. Anyway, scary as some bears may be, no one can deny that they’re super cute.
Humans and Monkeys Can Be Very Photogenic, Next Stop: Selfies
It’s fun to speculate about what exactly goes through monkeys’ heads. But it’s probably not too far from what goes on in ours. Tasty grub, squad goals, the quest for love, hanging around, swinging in the trees, and generally living a good life. What’s about intellectual pursuits? Where’s Monkey Mozart? Where’s Chimp Shakespeare? Well, maybe monkeys aren’t there yet, but they are clever.
For example, they know when they’re being observed by humans, and they sometimes take advantage of it. They can be seen doing all sorts of cute and funny poses for the camera when they notice we’re looking at them in the wild. Sometimes, when they know we’re looking, they even lash out and make all sorts of “vulgar” gestures. Ok, they probably won’t give you the middle finger, but they might be trying to convey something similar.
Cats Can Now Be Hired to Cut Wood for You During the Winter
Well, not really (yet), but this kitty sure looks like he could do a great job chopping kindling. Cats have been our close friends for a long long time. Not as long as dogs, but some estimates say that we can trace the cat-human friendship back 4,000 years. Ancient Egyptians might have first started getting friendly with them in order to “hire” them to catch pests, such as mice and bugs. They, of course, were paid in food (and cuddles).
With such a long history together (not to mention, we co-evolved with cats over millions of years), it’s clear that we have a lot of similarities. We have similar moods, and both species are good at gauging the mood of the other. We’re sure you can tell when your cat is grumpy or feeling snuggly. Studies show that cats are good at telling how we feel, and they use us as reference. If a human is scared, chances are the cat will pick up on that, and also get scared.
Next Up: K9s Living the Good Life
Dogs love to have fun. Whether that means hanging out, running around and exploring, or just relaxing in a nice comfy spot, pooches love the good life. Sports, too, are something dogs are involved in. They participate in all sorts of races and obstacle courses. And don’t forget the workplace! Dogs are hired and trained as cops or soldiers. They can also be guides for visually impaired. Their CVs qualify them for tons of stuff! Just like us.
By the way, as we see here, dogs, or at least one dog, can skate! Amazing. Just like us, it really seems dogs get a kick out of a little excitement and novelty. Over the tens of thousands of years of being best buds, dogs and humans have learned a lot from each other and helped each other in tons of different tasks. No wonder we’re similar. So don’t take it too hard if someone ever tells you to stop acting like an animal.