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The Nature and Significance of Comparative Physiology, With Optic Illustrations, and a Sensitive Ending

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

The methods, subjects and aims of comparative physiology in the broadest sense are first reviewed by quoting from authoritative sources. The general view seems to be that all animals from unicells up to humans should be studied from the evolutionary perspective, and that there is a comparative dimension at all levels of integration, from the molecular up to the organismal. A review is given of my comparative approach to a) the optic sense, and b) animal welfare. Ad a) a sixfold system is proposed, which at variance with the dualistic cat-monkey-man model (X-Y model) favoured in vision research consists of four photic systems for gathering information from light fields and two visual systems for gathering information from contrasts and objects. Ad b) I show that studies of animal welfare, pain, fear, and methods of euthanasia are virtually restricted to domestic and "experimental" animals. Because the heads of reptiles, amphibians and fish may show signs of life for a considerable time after these animals have been decapitated, the term 'decorporation' is suggested for the separation of head and corpus of these vertebrates. The urgent need for a comparative approach to these problems is emphasized. The contributions of fear and pain to suffering in a hooked fish are estimated.

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Comparative Physiology, State University of Utrecht, Jan van Galenstraat 40, 3572 LA Utrecht, The Netherlands


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