An ecologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, believes animals can have a sense of morality that allows them to know the difference between right and wrong, London's Daily Telegraph reported.

Marc Bekoff explains in his new book that morals are "hardwired" in a mammal's brain, and has gathered evidence showing how various species appear to have a sense of fairness, help other animals in need and can show empathy, the British newspaper reports.

It was previously believed that only humans had a sense of morality and could experience various emotions.

"The belief that humans have morality and animals don't is a long-standing assumption, but there is a growing amount of evidence that is showing us that this simply cannot be the case," Bekoff said. "Just as in humans, the moral nuances of a particular culture or group will be different from another, but they are certainly there. Moral codes are species specific, so they can be difficult to compare with each other or with humans."

Bekoff's ideas have been met with controversy from skeptics, but has also provided ammunition for animal welfare groups who want animals to be treated more like humans.

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