A couple of years back, New Scientist had a cover story entitled “So You Think Humans Are Unique?” In it, Christine Kenneally explored some human traits that were unexpectedly found in animals. Among them were culture, theory of mind, emotion, tool use, morality, and personality.
While it is true that these traits and others can be found in various non-human species, the uniqueness of humans really derives from our ability to combine all of these traits (and a high degree of intelligence) in such a way that extremely complex behaviors emerge.
More recently, I stumbled across a similar article in Time, which focuses primarily on Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and her studies of bonobos. If you have some time to spare, take a look at this video of the incredible abilities these apes have developed through a lifetime spent interacting with humans…
*Photo Credit: Horizon (Creative Commons)