Are Humans the Only Dreamers on Earth?

Are Humans the Only Dreamers on Earth?

Why it matters: Humans are not the only creatures capable of dreaming. Evidence across the animal kingdom—from mammals to birds, and even surprising species like spiders—suggests a wide range of animals experience dreams during REM sleep.

Big picture: Historical observations by Charles Darwin and subsequent research have shown that animals, including dogs, cats, and horses, exhibit behaviors during sleep indicative of dreaming. These findings include physical movements and sounds that reflect their waking activities.

What’s new: In a fascinating twist, modern studies have uncovered that beyond our familiar pets, zebra finches sing in their sleep, and rats envision future explorations. These intriguing findings hint at a complex cognitive process occurring during sleep across various species, a discovery reshaping our understanding of animal behavior.

Surprise: Recent studies have observed signs of REM sleep in a diverse group of animals, including spiders, lizards, cuttlefish, and zebrafish. For example, jumping spiders experience REM-like spells, hinting at the potential for dreams in even the smallest creatures.

Beyond human uniqueness: The revelation of animals’ dreaming capability not only underscores the richness of their mental and emotional lives but also challenges our perception of human uniqueness. This ongoing research prompts us to reconsider the qualities we once believed set us apart, such as the ability to dream, and recognize that we are part of a much larger tapestry of conscious life.

The bottom line: This exploration into the dreaming lives of animals broadens our perspective on consciousness, showing that dreaming is a shared aspect of life. It underscores animals’ cognitive and emotional lives and the universal nature of dreaming.

Related post: We Live in Two Worlds at the Same Time

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Extra Bonus: Too Much Fun!