So it turns out that Hamster: Attack! isn’t so far from reality after all! A study in the December 9 issue of Science reports that rats exhibit empathy when they encounter another rat trapped in a cage.
The best part? Once they figure out how, they always go and rescue their fellow rat!
Again and again humans have claimed this or that feature separated us from animals. Either we were the only ones who could use tools, the only ones that would play as adults, or even that humans are the only species that is driven more by culture by learned behavior.
It’s not too surprising that scientists have found evidence of empathy in chimpanzees. They’re right next to us on the evolutionary scale, after all. But here we have evidence of empathy in rats! What’s next, animals conducting funerals for their fallen? Oh, wait…
Read more about the study on sciencenews.org.