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Urban Ecology Series
No. 5: The City as a Biological Community
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From man's beginning he has known intuitively that he is a social animal. The concept of evolution has always been strongly controversial because no other biological organism is quite like man, although the behavioral similarities between man and other animals have always been apparent. Our language is replete with comparisons of man with animal. For example, we use expressions like sly as a fox, bullheaded, gone to the dogs, piggish, ravenous, playing possum, snake in the grass, shedding crocodile tears, and many more in which the attributes of an animal are assigned to man. The principal difference between man and all other biological organisms is that man has developed skills of language and of technology which have set him apart. The growing recognition of the relationship between the behavior of man the social organism and all other social organisms has come about not through the study of man's social behavior but through the study of the social behavior of other biological organisms. In biomedical research, discoveries related to physiological and biological disorders in lower animals have for decades provided clues leading to a better understanding of similar conditions in man. For example, hundreds of thousands of mice have been sacrificed for cancer research, and thousands of dogs have given their lives to advance our knowledge of cardiovascular malfunctions. Animals, such as gorillas, chimpanzees, and wolves, in their natural setting exhibit behavioral tendencies analogous to the behavior of man, and the ethology of man as an emergent science may well be one of the most significant sciences.

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Last Modified: Wed, Mar 20 2003 10:00:00 pm PDT