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In this three-volume biography, we revisit the life and accomplishments of the revolutionary scientist, Donald R. Griffin. He encountered a lifetime of initial hostile resistance to his ideas and studies; now they are largely accepted. He and a colleague discovered the phenomenon of echolocation used by bats to navigate and capture insects, proposed that birds navigate guided by such cues as the sun and stars, and suggested that animals are likely aware, thinking and feeling beings. Forty interviews with his colleagues and friends help us understand the young emerging scientist and the mature researcher. We learn about his and others’ research up to the present times. We gain insights into his thinking and the rigors and delights of fieldwork. Efforts to promote animal well-being intrinsically depend upon the insights from his groundbreaking ideas.

Volume three of the Griffin biography emphasizes his daring proposition that animals are likely to be aware, think, and have feelings. He is castigated as setting back science, but he amasses an enormous array of supportive evidence discussed in several of his books. Philosophers examine related issues. Griffin also tackles the possibility of human echolocation, the mysteries of bats' “terminal buzz,” beaver social behavior, and the “near sound” acoustics of honeybee communication. With Katy Payne, he plans studies of elephants’ social behavior to assess what it is like to be an elephant and to guide optimal protective measures. The influence of several women in his life is described, noting their accomplishments, intelligence and independence. We obsereve the struggles of some women scientists and Griffins’ support of many. During his “retirement” from Rockefeller University and move back to Cape Cod and the Harvard Field Station, he writes several books about the new field he had founded, “Cognitive Ethology,” and actively conducts research. Finally, Volume three includes a compilation of statements about Griffin’s life and work from friends, colleagues and the media that may be summarized as Griffin being an intensely curious man, a remarkable intellect, a revolutionary scientist, and a most admirable human being, The volume has extensive Appendices, includine a timeline, a list of publications, and a glossary of terms.



Publication Date



WellBeing International


Chevy Chase


animal awareness, consciousness, philosophy, behaviorism, Ernest Nagel, elephants, bees, beavers, bats, terminal buzz, distraction displays, human echolocation, animal well-being


Animal Sciences | Animal Studies | Bioethics and Medical Ethics | Cognitive Neuroscience | Cognitive Science

Birds, Bats and Minds. Tales of a Revolutionary Scientist: Donald R. Griffin. Volume Three