Animals are not cute; but their behaviour is fun science

Facebook Twitter

Dolphins Use Sponges To Access Novel Food Sources. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins around Shark Bay, Australia, perform a unique behavior called “sponging”, which is where certain animals place sponges over their snouts during foraging activities.

Dolphins Use Sponges To Access Novel Food Sources

Not all of the dolphins in this area display the behavior, and it was discovered that sponging was in fact culturally transmitted. Although it seemed plausible that sponging could be classified as tool use, it remained a mystery what the precise purpose of this behavior was; scientists postulated that it could serve to protect their beaks against abrasion from sharp objects whilst foraging for food. Methods Made Manifest - Episode 2. Methods Made Manifest - Episode 1. Speeding Towards Birds In A Car… For Science! In the winter of 2006, Pierre Legagneux started measuring when birds would fly away from him, as he sped towards them in his white Peugeot.

Speeding Towards Birds In A Car… For Science!

This wasn’t an official part of his research; he was just bored. After a recent move, his mornings of cycling past bucolic villages and forests had been replaced by long, tedious drives. “I found it very boring so I found something to do while driving,“ he says. “I started recording birds flying away in front of my car.” Cunnilingus increases duration of sex in megabat species. The males of a species of megabat have been observed giving oral sex to females in a move that appears to prolong the duration of copulation, a study has shown.

Cunnilingus increases duration of sex in megabat species

A team of biologists from Madurai Kamaraj University observed 57 separate incidences of copulation in a colony of Indian flying foxes (Pteropus giganteus), a giant species of bat. Before mating, males would typically groom their penis before approaching a nearby female. Females typically moved away, and the males would follow. When the females stopped moving, the males would start licking the female's vagina for around a minute. Chimps' Answer to Einstein. Natasha, a chimp at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda, has always seemed different from her peers.

Chimps' Answer to Einstein

She's learned to escape from her enclosure, teases human caretakers, and scores above other chimps in communication tests. Now, Natasha has a new title: genius. How do elephants trumpet? At last, scientists figure it out. Elephants' deepest calls can thunder up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) away.

How do elephants trumpet? At last, scientists figure it out.

Now, researchers have learned for the first time how the massive animals produce these sounds. Skip to next paragraph Subscribe Today to the Monitor Click Here for your FREE 30 DAYS ofThe Christian Science MonitorWeekly Digital Edition It turns out that they do it in the same way that humans talk, pushing air through their vocal cords to make them vibrate. Gorilla Youngsters Seen Dismantling Poachers' Traps—A First.

"This is absolutely the first time that we've seen juveniles doing that ...

Gorilla Youngsters Seen Dismantling Poachers' Traps—A First

I don't know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares," said Veronica Vecellio , gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund 's Karisoke Research Center , located in the reserve where the event took place. "We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas ... so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that," Vecellio added. (Also see "Dian Fossey's Gorillas Exhumed for Investigation. " ) BBC Nature - Crows know familiar human voices. 11 May 2012Last updated at 12:16 By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC Nature The researchers noted when crows turned their heads towards the sound of a familiar voice Crows recognise familiar human voices and the calls of familiar birds from other species, say researchers.

BBC Nature - Crows know familiar human voices

The ability could help the intelligent birds to thrive in urban environments; using vocal cues from their human and avian neighbours to find food or be alerted to potential threats. The team used recordings of human voices and jackdaw calls to test the birds' responses. Baboons Appear to Recognize Words From Gibberish. BBC Nature - Brown bear exfoliates using rock as a tool. 6 March 2012Last updated at 12:04 The brown bear scrubbed its face using a barnacle-covered rock A wild brown bear has been photographed using a barnacle-covered rock to exfoliate in the first recorded act of tool use by the species.

BBC Nature - Brown bear exfoliates using rock as a tool

The observation was made in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska by the University of Cumbria's Dr Volker Deecke. The bear may have been using the rock to scratch irritated skin or remove food from its fur while moulting, Dr Deecke says. It means brown bears could be more advanced than first thought, he says. Fish mimics octopus that mimics fish | Not Exactly Rocket Science. Science Can Neither Explain Nor Deny the Awesomeness of This Sledding Crow - Alexis Madrigal - Technology. Before we talk, you need to watch the video above.

Science Can Neither Explain Nor Deny the Awesomeness of This Sledding Crow - Alexis Madrigal - Technology

It's just one minute and 24 seconds. You'll observe a crow (probably a 'hooded crow') pick up the lid to a jar, set it down on the apex of a snow-mottled roof and slide down one side, carefully keeping its feet on the lid until it gets to the bottom. Then it picks up the lid, flies back to the apex, tests out another face of the roof, finds it lacking, returns to the original position, and slides down again. It is a remarkable demonstration of the intelligence of the crow, which sits on a smart branch in the animal tree within the family Corvidae.

Guest Post! It’s About Time: Delving Into Animals’ Memories | The Thoughtful Animal. Editor’s Note: Today’s post, coming appropriately after yesterday’s post on human intuitions about memory, comes from Felicity Muth who blogs at Not Bad Science, and tweets as @FelicityMuth.

Guest Post! It’s About Time: Delving Into Animals’ Memories | The Thoughtful Animal

This post, while it can certainly stand alone, is meant to be read after reading Felicity’s contribution to The Guest Blog. We have known for a number of years now that it is possible for animals to have memories for past events or episodes in their lives as we do. This ‘episodic-like memory’ was originally shown through a series of innovative experiments with scrub jays (see my post today on The Guest Blog!). The key trait of the western scrub jays used by Clayton and Dickinson in their influential experiments was that the birds had a natural tendency to store food and dig it up at a later date. This was useful for testing them, as this natural behaviour could be used to determine whether the birds remembered what they had stored in the past, where they had stored it, and when they had stored it.

Animal Imagination: The Dog That Pretended to Feed a Frog (and Other Tales) | The Thoughtful Animal. Can dogs pretend? This is the question I asked yesterday, prompted by Sheril’s story: …this afternoon Happy did something unusual. She carried a toy frog over to her water bowl, and gently put it down as pictured. Given its orientation, I’m skeptical that her placement was an accident.The frog continues to sit like this (20 minutes later) as Happy arranges other toys nearby. Now I admit I may be anthropomorphizing, but her behavior sure reminds me of a child playing “make believe” with stuffed animals. Empathic rats spring each other from jail | Not Exactly Rocket Science. You enter a room with two cages. One contains a friend, who is clearly distressed.

The other contains a bar of chocolate, which clearly isn’t. What do you do? While a few people would probably go for the chocolate first (and you know who you are), most would choose to free the friend. And so, it seems, would a rat. Guest Post: the Nature of Octopuses. There is an old story about a scorpion and a turtle. Variants abound, but the basic tale revolves around an unusually talkative scorpion that asks a turtle for a lift across a river. The turtle refuses at first, fearing the scorpion’s sudden but inevitable betrayal. The scorpion insists, the turtle relents, and the two get halfway across before the scorpion predictably stings the turtle.

As they sink to their mutual deaths, the turtle asks, “Why did you do it?” The scorpion simply replies: “It’s my nature.” Dingo rearranges furniture for better dining - life - 22 December 2011. Video: Dingo moves table to snag treat A captive dingo has been caught on camera moving a table to use it as a step stool to reach a tasty morsel.

It is a rare example of an animal solving a complex problem, though strictly speaking it is not true tool use. Bradley Smith of the Australian Dingo Foundation and colleagues observed dingoes at the Dingo Discovery and Research Centre in Toolern Vale, Victoria. In 2008 a male dingo called Sterling was trying to reach a food item dangling from the ceiling of his enclosure. Zoologger: Cannibal shrimp shows its romantic side - life - 17 November 2011. Zoologger is our weekly column highlighting extraordinary animals – and occasionally other organisms – from around the world Species: Lysmata amboinensisHabitat: coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific, striking in the night Cannibalistic and willing to fight to the bitter end under the cover of darkness: Lysmata amboinensis shrimp have a brutally romantic side.

They are so hell-bent on living in pairs that when placed in groups of three or four, they attack their peers until just one couple remains alive. Octopus Walks on Land | Video of the Week. Turtle embryos can speed up their development to hatch together with their siblings | Not Exactly Rocket Science. Cold-Blooded Cognition: Social Cognition in a Non-Social Reptile? | The Thoughtful Animal. Real Life Werewolves? Dog Bites and Full Moons | The Thoughtful Animal. Muriqui monkey mothers are key to sons' sexual success. Inside the mind of the octopus. Small, Sneaky Squid Produce Big Sperm | 80beats. Bonobo beats chimpanzee in intelligence test - video | World news. The Science of Sexism: Primate Behavior and the Culture of Sexual Coercion | The Primate Diaries. How to Have Fun Like Monkeys, Whales and Foxes | Wired Science. Zoologger: Patriarchal fish punish powerful females - life - 15 June 2011.

Angelfish can estimate quantity. Don't have sex with a time-travelling sea monkey. Weird Mating Calls of the Leopard Slug (Life in the Underground) Why female zebra finches cheat on their partners - life - 13 June 2011. BBC Nature - In Pictures: Spotting weedy seadragons of Australia. Californian dolphin gang caught killing porpoises - environment - 02 June 2011. All-male clams escape from genetic canyons by stealing eggs | Not Exactly Rocket Science. Why have sex? To fight parasites, of course! | Empirical Zeal. This is basically how i met my girlfriend. BBC - Earth News - Males make pregnant horses abort. Scientists create chill-out music for monkeys | Science. Bellowing bedfellows. Need A Date? Take A Cue From The Birds : The Thoughtful Animal. At it like rabbits: Bizarre animal sex in pictures - Image 4. Monkey see, monkey facepalm | Not Exactly Rocket Science. Rage-inducing chemical on squid eggs turns males into violent thugs | Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Vultures use tools. Ravens use vultures. Ravens are tools | Not Exactly Rocket Science. Chicken research advances understanding of animal emotion. Zoologger: The only fish that cries like a baby - life - 11 May 2011. Eight-year-old children publish bee study in Royal Society journal | Not Exactly Rocket Science. Elephants give each other a helping trunk | Not Exactly Rocket Science. One fish, two fish... Can fish count? Sharks visit personal hygienists. Father-Child Bonds in the Animal World, Special and Strange. Ant dropping behaviour by wasps. BBC - Earth News - Males make pregnant horses abort. Octopus tool use | Science. First evidence that gorillas pass on traditions - life - 10 May 2011. Laurie Santos: A monkey economy as irrational as ours. Do animals masturbate? - By Daniel Engber. The Adaptive Function of Masturbation in a Promiscuous African Ground Squirrel.