Author: Huxleў
© Huxleў — almanac about philosophy, business, art and science.
6 minutes for reading

ARE REPTILIANS NOT A MYTH? Consciousness beyond the human world

ARE REPTILIANS NOT A MYTH? Consciousness beyond the human world
Share material
Photo source:


Could there be intelligent life forms different from us in the universe? Fantasy literature and Hollywood say it’s very possible. If man is a superior ape that evolved from more primitive apes, why wouldn’t other species in the evolutionary process follow the same path?




It is hard to argue with the thesis that insects and reptiles had much more opportunity and time than humans to acquire such an important «option» as consciousness. From this fantastic assumption, the most incredible theories are born.

In particular, about insectoids — intelligent insects, and reptiloids — intelligent reptiles. These fictional humanoid creatures appear in an unrealistic number of modern myths, legends, and conspiracy theories.

In them, beetles and lizards with consciousness and intelligence appear so smart that they can invisibly control humanity, form world elites, and control human history for their own inhuman purposes.




As a psychological phenomenon, reptiloids and insectoids are quite scientific. They occupy the honorable place of «universal enemy», parasitizing the same phobias that give rise to class or racial hatred.

People who fear that a bug or lizard is smarter than they are often mocked. However, myths, phobias, and sarcasm have never seriously answered this pressing question: Does consciousness really exist in reptiles and insects?

A recent article published in the international scientific journal Nature claims that there is a «real possibility» that elements of consciousness exist in reptiles, insects and molluscs. Under this thesis, strangely enough, has already been signed by about 40 authoritative scientists.


Мауриц Корнелис Эшер. Рептилии, 1943
Maurits Cornelis Escher. Reptiles, 1943 /




We have become accustomed to the fact that certain species of mammalian birds, such as crows, chimpanzees, and elephants, demonstrate outstanding abilities of their consciousness. If not when compared to humans, then certainly when compared to the rest of the animal kingdom. However, recently, there has been a growing body of scientific evidence that the list of «conscious» creatures is not limited to vertebrates.

For example, researchers actively look for and characteristically find signs of consciousness in octopuses. But if the mind of these inhabitants of the depths of the sea has been written about many times, the appearance of flies and bees in this list causes a real sensation.

According to a new scientific statement, more and more data indicate that the range of living beings with specific forms of consciousness can and should be expanded. Scientists dealing with this issue have even created a unique coalition that aims to rethink the relationship between animals and humanity.




According to the members of the coalition, if an animal has a real possibility of conscious experience, then humans have no right to make decisions about it that ignore this fact. The scientists set out the fundamental principles of such a policy in a document called «The New York Declaration of Animal Consciousness».

It asserts the existence of aspects of consciousness not only in birds and mammals but also in fish, insects, reptiles, and other animals. One of the authors of the declaration, British philosopher Jonathan Birch, insists that humanity can no longer ignore the accumulated scientific facts and reject the idea of the existence of consciousness in biological species that differ from humans.

And it is quite possible that some conscious experience may be present in all living things. Therefore, there is hardly an unambiguous answer to the question of which species have consciousness and which do not.


Конго — шимпанзе-художник за рисованием. К четырем годам Конго сделал 400 рисунков и картин. Его работы были выставлены не продажу в лондонской галерее The Mayor Gallery
Kongo — an artist chimpanzee at drawing. By the age of four, Kongo had made 400 drawings and paintings. His work has been exhibited for sale at The Mayor Gallery in London /


By joining the Huxleў friends club, you support philosophy, science and art




The difficulty and misunderstanding of the position of the scientists who signed the declaration is that it is not easy to define consciousness. But the declarants call for an aspect of consciousness to be considered here, which they call «sensitivity». Birch describes it as the ability of a living being to have subjective experience.

For an animal, such experience would include a great deal: smell, hearing, touching the world around it, and a wide range of feelings — fear, pleasure, pain. In fact, having all of the above is precisely what it means to «be an animal».

Unlike animals, humans have the ability to describe subjective experiences with words. However, subjective experience does not necessarily have to include the ability to think about that experience.

If animals cannot use words to convey their inner state, it does not mean that they do not have such an experience. Birch argues that it is possible to detect consciousness in an animal by indirect signs and by nuances of behavior that indicate its presence.




One of the classic experiments is the mirror test, which assesses the ability of an animal to recognize itself in a mirror. In this experiment, scientists place a sticker or other visual marker on the animal’s body and put it in front of a mirror.

Some animals, such as chimpanzees, Asian elephants, and cleaner fish, react to this «wrong» reflection. They show curiosity about the mark and even try to remove it. This behavior makes one speculate the presence of self-awareness, which may be a sign of consciousness. When crows were taught a particular gesture, whenever they saw a colored square on the screen, the birds performed their task with high accuracy.

At the same time, scientists measured the activity of an area of their brain that is associated with high-level cognitive abilities. And they found that the crow’s brain activity correlated with what they were being told, not what they were being shown. That means the birds were conscious of what they perceived. And this is another potential marker of consciousness.


Голубь использует зеркало, чтобы найти точку, нарисованную на его теле
A pigeon uses a mirror to find a dot drawn on its body /




Another experiment showed that octopuses, choosing between two chambers, avoided the one where they had previously received a painful stimulus. And preferred the one where they had been given an anesthetic. According to the researchers, conscious avoidance of pain indicates a conscious experience.

The researchers found that in fruit flies, brain activity in both the deep and «active» sleep phases is the same as during wakefulness. It turns out that flies have some dreams that resemble human dreams.

These fly reactions are similar to sleep with rapid eye movement in humans when they have vivid dreams. And such dreams are precisely interpreted as conscious experiences — critical components of consciousness.

It should be noted that this approach has its critics.




Under the pressure of new scientific data, they admit that animals have complex perceptual behavior. But they refuse on this basis to recognize consciousness for animals, since even in humans there is both conscious and unconscious perception.

However, even skeptics agree that the declaration can have a positive impact on policymaking regarding animal ethics and welfare. Is it a good time for humanity to consider whether most animals can be conscious? The question is not unreasonable.

Especially against the backdrop of the artificial intelligence revolution, when similar questions are being asked about machines. If such an adaptive brain quality as consciousness was able to evolve in nature, then it follows that it can fundamentally exist beyond the human world. 


Original research: Do insects have an inner life? Animal consciousness needs a rethink


When copying materials, please place an active link to
By joining the Huxleў friends club, you support philosophy, science and art
Share material

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: