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From a biological point of view, animals are living entities that are equipped with nervous systems and sensory organs that render them capable of detecting and rapidly responding to stimuli. They also differ from plants in that animals require organic matter as nourishment, whereas plants have the ability to transform inorganic molecules directly into food. While biology provides insight into the physiology and behavior of animals, social scientists study the many meanings that animals have in different societies as well as the role that animals play in human social relations. There isn't a single society in the world in which animals do not occupy a critically important place. Although in many societies—including those of the Western world—the conventional use of the word animal normally refers ...

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