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Are Humans Animals? 15 Things to Know

Human beings! One of the most intelligent creatures on the planet! But are humans animals? This is an issue that has many proponents as well as opponents. This article seeks to set the record straight.

There is much debate surrounding whether humans are animals or not. On one side, some believe humans are unique and distinct from all other creatures on Earth. Conversely, some argue that humans are just another animal species.

So, which side is correct? Are humans animals, or are they a unique species? The truth is, more facts favor humans being animals. According to various research and studies, scientists have concluded that humans are undoubtedly animals.

I know that calling someone an animal might sound like abuse or disrespect, but the facts are clear. To help settle this debate, let’s first explore what it means to be an animal.

What is an Animal?

are humans animals

An animal is a living, breathing organism classified in the kingdom Animalia. Animals are multicellular and eukaryotic, meaning their cells contain a nucleus and other organelles within their cytoplasm.

Generally, all animals share specific characteristics, such as;

  • Being able to move around on their own
  • Eating food to get energy
  • Having sensory organs that allow them to interact with their environment

There are many different types of animals, ranging from tiny ones like insects to massive ones like elephants. Also, some animals may seem similar to humans than others, in terms of appearance or even intelligence.

For example, chimpanzees or dolphins show a higher intelligence level than other animals. Nevertheless, all animals are unique in their own way.

What Differentiates Animals from other Organisms?

Lemur eating a fruit
Lukasz Szmigiel / Unsplash

The planet is full of other organisms besides animals. But what differentiates these organisms? Well, one main difference is that animals are able to move around on their own. This ability to move and interact with the environment allows them to gather food, find mates, and evade danger.

Additionally, animals have sensory organs that allow them to take in information from their surroundings. This includes sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.

These senses help animals navigate their world and survive in it. All animals also need energy to live. They get this energy by eating other organisms or plants. While some animals may eat meat or plants exclusively, others are omnivorous and can eat both.

At the cellular level, all animals also have mitochondria, which is what help them produce energy.

What Makes Humans Animals?

ape, woman composite

As to whether humans are animals, there is no doubt about it. Humans are most certainly animals. But what exactly makes them animals?

Firstly, humans share a lot of characteristics with other animal species. These characteristics tie them to the human-animal kingdom. Like all animals, humans have the following features and characteristics;

1. Humans are Multicellular

Different Human Body Cells
Maria Hayrapetyan / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

That’s right! The human body is made up of trillions of cells, just like other animals. And those cells are organized into tissues and organs that make our bodies function.

Our DNA, which is the same as that of other animals, directs and regulates the work of these cells. These cells produce and store energy, make proteins, transport other molecules in the body, and replicate DNA—functions that all animal cells perform.

Therefore, even at the cellular level, we can easily answer our question – are humans animals?

2. Humans are Eukaryotic

Illustration of Eukaryotic
Silvatica / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Still, at the cellular level, humans can be classified as eukaryotic. What does this mean? Eukaryotic organisms, also known as eukaryotes, are organisms whose cells contain a nucleus enclosed in a nuclear envelope.

Eukaryotic cells also contain other organelles within their cytoplasm, including mitochondria and the Golgi apparatus, which is common with numerous other animals.

These features also distinguish them from prokaryotic cells found in bacteria and other single-celled organisms.

3. We Have Sensory Organs

Closeup of a human nose and eyes
Marina Vitale / Unsplash

Humans have all the same sensory organs that other animals do. These include eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin. All animals can easily interact with the environment and survive in it using these senses. For instance, some animals use their strong eyesight to spot predators from afar. Others will use their hearing or smell senses to pinpoint the location of prey or food.

Generally, these senses help every animal survive in its ecosystem. Humans are no different. We use our eyes to see and evade danger, our mouths to eat, our skin to feel, and our noses to smell pleasant or unpleasant stuff.

4. We Eat to Get Energy

Woman eating food with fork and knife
Farhad Ibrahimzade / Unsplash

Like all other animals, humans need energy to live. We get this energy by eating food—either plants or other animals. We use this energy to move, breathe, pump blood, and even think.

Additionally, we use energy to repair any damage that might have occurred in our bodies. For example, when we get a cut, our body uses some of the energy it has stored to close up the wound and stop the bleeding.

All these functions require energy, which we get from food. In this sense, humans are animals because they need survival food, just like other animals.

5. We Move Around

Man running in the morning
Chander R / Unsplash

On average, humans can walk at a speed of about three miles per hour. And while this may not seem fast compared to other animals such as cheetahs or lions, it is still movement.

We need to move to find food, water, and shelter. And we also use movement to interact with our environment and escape danger. Other animals also do the same.

For example, predators move to get their prey while the prey runs for their lives. Whether predator or prey, movement is quite important for any animal to get to its food. Without movement, many animals would certainly starve to death.

6. We Reproduce

Woman breastfeeding her newborn baby
David Veksler / Unsplash

All sexually reproducing organisms are members of the kingdom animalia. Human biology puts humans in the same category.

When two sexually compatible cells fuse together—in a process called fertilization—an embryo forms. This embryo then develops into a new organism that is genetically similar to its parents.

Like all other animals, human embryos go through a series of developmental stages as they grow and mature into adults.

Different animals reproduce in different ways, but the end result is always the same—a new organism is created. Take the case of a human. After the male fertilizes the ovum on the female, the female carries the embryo for nine months and gives birth to a new creature (baby).

In comparison, after a rooster fertilizes the egg, a hen will sit on the eggs for 21 days, when they hatch into chicks. While the two processes are different, they are also quite similar. There is fertilization, a gestation period, and a new organism being brought forth.

7. We Evolve

human evolution

Another way to answer our question – are humans animals? – is to look at how we evolve. All living organisms on earth are constantly evolving, including humans. Over time, as individuals in a population reproduce, their DNA changes slightly.

Some of these changes might be beneficial and help the individual survive and reproduce better than those without it. Other changes might be harmful and lead to the death of the individual. That’s why we usually hear of extinct animals.

But over time, if enough individuals have these helpful changes in their DNA, the entire population will also start to change. This is called evolution by natural selection.

Like all other species, humans have evolved. According to various studies, human evolution dates back more than 2 million years ago. However, modern humans, who belong to the genus homo sapiens, first came into existence around 300,000 years ago.

Humans have evolved to form bigger and better brains, complex societies, and the ability to use tools. The human brain is known as one of the most intelligent ones, something that is quite evident based on their behavior.

See related: Do Bulletproof Animals Exist? Here’s What You Need to Know

8. We are Intelligent

Books for studies
Aaron Burden / Unsplash

All animals are intelligent in different capacities. For example, a cat is intelligent enough to catch a mouse but not intelligent enough to understand human language.

On the other hand, a parrot is intelligent enough to learn how to say a few words but not intelligent enough to solve complex mathematical problems.

Each animal is intelligent in a way that helps it survive. And while humans may consider themselves superior, all we do is exercise our intelligence to help us survive.

Generally, we may do things other animals cannot do, such as build houses, fly airplanes, and write books. But it’s all because we need these things to survive in today’s society.

The hard fact is that we are all limited in intelligence and cannot do everything. For example, we cannot run as fast as a cheetah or jump as high as a kangaroo. Every animal has its strengths and limits.

See Related: Fastest Animals in the World

What Differentiates Humans from Other Animals?  

So, what is a human? Are human beings animals? Let’s find out. Humans are animals. However, several features and characteristics set them apart from other animals. In many instances, this might make people think that we are not animals.

Some of these differences include:

1. We Feel Emotions

Happy group of friends on a sunflower field
Antonino Visalli / Unsplash

One thing that makes humans unique is our ability to feel emotions. We can feel happiness, sadness, anger, love, and fear- just to name a few.

But this doesn’t mean other animals don’t experience these emotions. They do! The only difference is that humans are more in tune with these feelings.

Humans can express their feelings through language, art, music, etc. It’s easier to know what someone is feeling, whether happy or sad, as they can express it in their face, language, or outrightly telling you.

This is not the same thing for other animals. You must be keen enough to identify when an animal is sad or happy.

2. We have Culture

Different mascot in Spain Festival
San Fermin Pamplona – Navarra / Unsplash

Humans are the only animals with culture! Culture refers to the beliefs, values, and customs of a group of people. It’s what makes us unique as individuals and as groups. It defines human life, and it’s learned from the people around us.

For example, our culture influences the way we dress, the food we eat, and the way we behave. Some cultures are very different from others. For instance, in some cultures, greeting someone with a kiss on the cheek is customary. In contrast, other cultures will consider this obscene.

Animals don’t have any culture. They might live in groups or families, hunt together, or care for each other’s young ones (like lions), but that’s all. No codes or standards are guiding them.

3. We are More Intelligent

Chemists doing a laboratory analysis
jarmoluk / Pixabay

This is obvious! Humans are more intelligent than other animals. We can think abstractly, solve problems, and use language.

This is not to say that other animals are not intelligent. They are! However, their intelligence is limited to what they need to do to survive in their environment.

For example, while a chimpanzee or a gorilla resembles a human in so many ways, they cannot build a house or fly an airplane. However, it can use sticks and stones as weapons to hunt for food.

In the same way, a bird cannot solve complex mathematical problems but can build intricate nests. This means human brains are more innovative than other animals, including primates.

4. Humans Use Language to Communicate

Spanish books for learning Spanish language
Estonia Incorporated / Unsplash

We are the only species that can use language to communicate. That’s right! Language is a system of symbols (words and signs) that represent ideas or concepts. Besides communicating with others, we also use language to think and reflect on our thoughts and experiences.

We have seen animals mimic human sounds or words (like parrots). However, they cannot combine these symbols to form a complete sentence like humans can. This is because human language is more complex than animal sounds. It has grammar, syntax, and semantics.

Only one other animal has achieved the human communication style, although not fully – Koko, the gorilla. Koko gorilla learned over 1000 human language signs throughout her life. Additionally, this primate could understand over 2000 spoken words and use them in sign language.

Humans are usually closely related to great apes like gorillas and other primates. This might be why Koko learned so many human words and signs.

However, despite Koko being intelligent enough to understand and communicate in the human language, it certainly had a lot that it couldn’t learn. Interacting with Koko helped humans understand the gorilla species more, and it showed that humans are way more intelligent.

5. We Can Plan for the Future

Monthly planner book
2H Media / Unsplash

Planning for the future involves thinking about what might happen and taking the necessary steps. This might include planning for something you want to happen or avoiding a foreseen occurrence. 

For example, you might plan for your next holiday by saving money each month. Or, you might plan your day tomorrow by listing tasks you need to do.

You might also plan to avoid future financial problems by saving or investing now. This ensures that you don’t run into money problems in the future.

In contrast, other animals can’t plan for future events. They might store food to cater for drier or cold seasons (chimpanzees, rodents, and some birds), but that’s it. Only humans can do that.

Most animals will live in the present moment and only think about what is happening now. A few will think of what has happened in the past. They don’t have an awareness of time as we do.

6. We Can Use Tools

Two men installing new solar panels on the roof of a private house. Renewable energy concept and green energy abstract.
AHatmaker / Adobe Stock

Besides opposable thumbs, humans are unique in that we use tools. A tool is any object that we use to achieve a goal. For example, you might use a hammer to drive a nail into the wall or a knife to cut food.

Tool usage separates us from other animals because it shows our thinking ability. We can see how an object can be used for different purposes and then select the one that helps us achieve our goal.

Several other animals might also use objects as tools. However, they don’t do so at the same level of sophistication as humans.

For example, monkeys might use a stone to break some nuts. But they can’t use the same stones to build a shelter. However, most humans can use tools for their benefit.

7. We Can Control Other Animals

Man hugging a brown dog
Eric Ward / Unplash

Despite our small size compared to other animals, humans can control many of them. We do this by training and domesticating them.

Dogs, for example, have been domesticated by humans for thousands of years. They are used as companions, service animals, and working dogs.

Other domesticated animals include camels, elephants, horses, and cows. Humans have also been known to tame even the most dangerous animals, such as lions and tigers.

What Does it Mean to be Human?

Pet dog and human
viktoriia1974 / Adobe Stock

As we have seen, so many characteristics can help us classify humans. These include their cellular structure, behaviors, features, and capabilities.

For instance, humans can plan, use tools, use language to communicate, etc. Subsequently, some of these capabilities have made humans consider themselves superior to all other animals.

However, while we might be superior in thoughts and a few other aspects, some animals are superior in other capabilities. Some animals even live quite longer than humans.

Therefore, it is hard to say without a doubt that humans are the best animals. Nonetheless, they undoubtedly come close! What do you think? Are humans animals?


Are humans classified as an animal?

Humans are classified as animals. More specifically, they are members of the biological kingdom Animalia, which includes all multicellular organisms that move spontaneously and independently.

This classification is based on the fundamental characteristics humans share with other animals, including the presence of a nucleus in cells, the ability to reproduce sexually, and the possession of a complex nervous system.

What species do humans belong to?

Humans belong to the species Homo sapiens. This species is characterized by upright posture and bipedal locomotion, as well as a large brain relative to body size. Homo sapiens is the only surviving species of the genus Homo, which also includes extinct species such as Homo neanderthalensis and Homo erectus.

Why are hyenas going extinct?

Hyenas are not currently going extinct. Many hyena populations are stable or even increasing. However, some hyena species, such as the brown hyena and the striped hyena, are considered near threatened due to habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict. It is important to continue monitoring hyena populations and implementing conservation efforts to ensure survival.

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