In Beastly Brains, Castaldo delves into the minds of animals and explores animal empathy, communication, tool use, and social societies through interviews and historical anecdotes. Researchers from Charles Darwin to Jane Goodall have spent years analyzing the minds of animals, and today’s science is revolutionizing old theories and uncovering surprising similarities to our own minds. Humans are not alone in our ability to think about ourselves, make plans, help each other, or even participate in deception. You’ll think differently about the animals on this planet—maybe it’s their world and we’re just living in it!
Castaldo (The Story of Seeds) presents a thought-provoking look at the minds and perceptions of animals, as well as the way human understanding of the subject has evolved, as she describes a series of studies designed to examine cognition in animals. On "Monkey Island" off the coast of Puerto Rico researchers observed how monkeys exhibited humanlike tendencies when a form of "currency" was introduced into their community; dolphins have been shown to recognize themselves in mirrors; and dogs have displayed signs of jealousy in experiments. Castaldo makes the science behind the studies clear, particularly the moral ramifications with regard to human treatment of animals: "The issue is no longer accepting that animals think: it's now the challenge of figuring out how they think and what we will do with that information." Ages 12 up.