The following is commentary by Dr. Charles H. Wheatley
Today I will share an excerpt from the writings of Ed Yong in lieu of Wheatake 77
Before these days of electronic communication and scientific insights into the movements of hurricanes, our forebears followed the behaviour of animals when preparing for a hurricane landfall. The scissors tail bird flew in the direction of the approaching storm. The yard fowls hurried to secure shelter, animals with young offspring’s secured them in fortified places. The list goes on. On remembering this local knowledge as Fiona approached us, I was prompted to share this excerpt from the writings of Ed Yong instead of Wheatake 77 which will follow later:
Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electronic and magnetic fields. But every animal can only tap into a small fraction of reality’s fullness. Each is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving but a tiny silver of an immense world. Our Umwelt (the German word for the sensory bubble each creature inhabits, both limiting and defining its perceptual reality) is still limited, it just doesn’t feel that way. To us, it feels all-encompassing. It is all that we know, and so we easily mistake it for all there is to know. These is an illusion, and one that every animal shares. Nothing can sense everything, and nothing needs to. That is why Umwelt exists at all. It is also why the act of contemplating the Umwelt of another creature is so deeply human and so utterly profound. Our senses filter in what we need. We must choose to learn about the rest. The Umwelt concept can feel constrictive because it implies that every creature is trapped within the house of its senses. But to me, the idea is wonderfully expansive. It tells us that all is not as it seems and that everything we experience is but a filtered version of everything that we could experience. It reminds us that there is light in darkness, noise in silence, richness in nothingness. It hints at flickers of the unfamiliar in the familiar, of magnificence in mundanity…. When we pay attention to other animals, our world expands and deepens.
(An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around us.)