Despite originating more than two-and-a-half thousand years ago, Aesop's Fables are still passed on from parent to child, and are embedded in our collective consciousness. The morals we have learned from these tales continue to inform our judgements, but have the stories also informed how we regard their animal protagonists? If so, is there any truth behind the stereotypes? Are wolves deceptive villains? Are crows insightful geniuses? And could a tortoise really beat a hare in a race?
In Aesop's Animals, zoologist Jo Wimpenny turns a critical eye to the fables to discover whether there is any scientific truth to Aesop's portrayal of the animal kingdom. She brings the tales into the twenty-first century, introducing the latest findings on some of the most fascinating branches of ethological research - the study of why animals do the things they do. In each chapter she interrogates a classic fable and a different topic - future planning, tool use, self-recognition, cooperation and deception - concluding with a verdict on the veracity of each fable's portrayal from a scientific perspective.
By sifting fact from fiction in one of the most beloved texts of our culture, Aesop's Animals explores and challenges our preconceived notions about animals, the way they behave, and the roles we both play in our shared world.