The Migratory Connectivity Project seeks to connect people and cultures throughout the Americas by fostering the public’s appreciation for migratory birds Did you know the coast of Texas is a critically important place for migratory birds in the U.S.
Most of the world's bats use extremely sophisticated hunting techniques, but not bats around the equator. They use pretty much the same less sophisticated hunting techniques as their ancestors did millions of years ago.
Does owning a pet or even watching those ubiquitous YouTube animal videos make us more empathetic? Apparently so. Loving those creatures may unlock ways to make you less lonely and make the world a better place.
"Interacting with a pet can increase oxytocin, beta-endorphin and dopamine levels as well as reduce cortisol levels — powerful neurochemicals that can lower our blood pressure and make us feel happier, better and more relaxed," says Rebecca A. Johnson, a professor and director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine.
Oxytocin, often called the "love" or "trust" hormone because of the feelings it triggers when we kiss or fall in love, also promotes social bonding.
Intelligence and culture are values frequently used to gauge the complexity and sentience of animals. Here we will examine the basics of animal cognition, how their intelligence is demonstrated, and examples of cultural behavior. Defining Intelligence Humans are very intelligent, this we know. The most intelligent of all animals on Earth, at least by the ways we measure intelligence. The more we learn about other animals' intelligence, and the more we try to define intelligence even among humans, the more we are amazed and befuddled by it! Human intelligence is generally measured by IQ, or intelligence quotient. This is measured by taking a series of tests. But, how do you make animals take IQ tests, so that we can measure their intelligence? We really can't, though we can measure their intelligence in other ways. These include assessing their sense of self-awareness, their capacity for problem-solving, and even an anatomical measurement of their brain size and complexity. The presence of emotional behaviors among animals can also be an indicator of intelligence. Some scientists argue that this is too narrow of a definition of intelligence, based too closely on human attributes and adaptations. However intelligence is defined, it is, itself, an evolutionary adaptation for all animals, including humans, that is utilized in different ways based upon environment, physiology, and ecological roles.
The study's authors say while we tend to place pigs in a lower category to animals such as dogs and cats, they are in fact, just as smart and empathic – and should be treated as such....
A study earlier this year also found pigs have empathy. Researchers in the Netherlands housed pigs in 16 groups of six, training two of the animals in each of the groups...
University of Portsmouth research has shown that orangutans can be so full of empathy that they take on the moods of others. When one orangutan laughs, others often join in. They have complex social lives, with pigs often learning from one another...
The ocean sunfish is so improbable that even it looks astonished that it exists. The size alone is crazy. It can weigh up to 2,200 pounds, and grow to be the size of a small car that has been squashed flat by a larger car.
The famous lemurs of Madagascar face such severe threats to their survival that none of them may be left in the wild within 25 years. That stark warning comes from one of the world's leading specialists in the iconic animals. Deforestation and hunting are taking an increasing toll, according to Professor Jonah Ratsimbazafy, director of GERP, a centre for primate research in Madagascar. "My heart is broken," he told the BBC, "because the situation is getting worse as more forests disappear every year. That means the lemurs are in more and more trouble." So far 106 species of lemur have been identified and nearly all of them are judged to be at risk of extinction, many of them critically endangered. The habitats they depend on - mostly a variety of different kinds of forest - only exist in Madagascar.
How do groups of animals, including humans, make decisions that affect the entire group? Evidence collected from schooling animals suggests that the process is somewhat democratic, with nearest neighbors and the majority shaping overall collective behavior. In animals with hierarchical social structures such as primates or wolves, however, such democracy may be complicated by dominance. Strandburg-Peshkin et al. monitored all the individuals within a baboon troop continuously over the course of their daily activities. Even within this highly socially structured species, movement decisions emerged via a shared process. Thus, democracy may be an inherent trait of collective behavior.
Shared decision-making drives collective movement in wild baboons Ariana Strandburg-Peshkin, Damien R. Farine, Iain D. Couzin, Margaret C. Crofoot
For a long time, it was thought that empathy was unique to primates, or even humans. But in the past few years, several experiments seem to indicate rats and mice feel each other's pain, too.
The simplest form of empathy is known as emotional contagion. It's a phenomenon where one individual's emotions spread to other individuals nearby. For instance, if one baby in a nursery cries, it triggers the other babies in the room to cry as well. Emotional contagion allows humans and other animals to share emotional experiences, and there is strong evidence it exists in rodents.
Getting food can be tough for all sorts of animals, but the hawkmoth has a particular challenge. It feeds at dusk by inserting a long proboscis into a flower to drink nectar.
Simon Sponberg, an assistant professor in the physics department at Georgia Tech, who reported on the moth’s visual abilities last week in Science, said the moths must maintain a hovering position, “while they’re feeding from a flower with a proboscis that can be as long as their body while the flower is moving in the wind.”
They need to see that flower clearly. And they are “doing it at light levels at which we’d have trouble seeing the hand in front of our face,” Dr. Sponberg said.
He along with Thomas L. Daniel, with whom he studied the moths at the University of Washington before moving to Georgia Tech, and colleagues reported that one of the ways the moths seem to cope with near darkness is to slow visual processing in their brains.
As if they were using a slower shutter speed in a camera, they are able to allow their brains to gather more light.
Dr. Sponberg’s interest is in understanding how animals “move through their world with grace and agility” and why engineering something similar for robots is so hard. And that involves pairing how the brain works with the physics of how animals move.
There was previous evidence that visual processing could slow down in hawkmoths, but no test of whether this was occurring while feeding in low light.
So Dr. Sponberg and his colleagues designed robotic flowers and used high-speed video to record the moths’ feeding behavior. If visual processing was slowed down in low light, then faster motion should be harder to detect for the moth, in the same way fast action is blurred in a photograph at a slow shutter speed.
They build cities. They farm. They make war. Ants do a lot of things that seem uncannily human — and yet they’re profoundly alien, part of a hive mind called a social organism. What does that feel like to each individual ant?
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