animals and prosocial capacities
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animals and prosocial capacities
Prosocial capacities shared by humans and other species: empathy, reciprocity, altruism, bonding, play, tool use, communication
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How Whales Change Climate | George Monbiot

How Whales Change Climate | George Monbiot | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it

The astonishing story of how whales keep the oceans alive – and alter the composition of the atmosphere.

 

Written and narrated by George Monbiot. Produced and directed by SustainableHuman.


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Nuno Gaspar de Oliveira's curator insight, January 18, 2015 11:32 AM

the ecosystem cascade effect

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Evil cannibal squirrels could make California's drought less terrible

Evil cannibal squirrels could make California's drought less terrible | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Farmers hate Belding's ground squirrels. But they may be an essential piece of the state's ecosystems.

Via Sylvain Rotillon, Anita Woodruff
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The goats fighting America's plant invasion

The goats fighting America's plant invasion | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Each country has its own invasive species and rampant plants with a tendency to grow out of control. In most, the techniques for dealing with them are similar - a mixture of powerful chemicals and diggers. But in the US a new weapon has joined the armoury in recent years - the goat.

In a field just outside Washington, Andy, a tall goat with long, floppy ears, nuzzles up to his owner, Brian Knox.

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Squid uses luminescent bacteria to match moonlight welling down from above to cancel out its own shadow

Squid uses luminescent bacteria to match moonlight welling down from above to cancel out its own shadow | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it

The aquarium looks empty, but there is something in it. A pair of eyes stick out from the sandy floor, and their owner is easily scooped up into a glass bowl. At first, the creature looks like a hazelnut truffle — small, round and covered in tiny flecks. But with a gentle shake, the flecks of sand fall off to reveal a female Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes), about the size of a thumb. As she jets furiously around the bowl, discs of pigment bloom and fade over her skin like a living pointillist painting.


There are no other animals in the bowl, but the squid is not alone. Its undersides contain a two-chambered light organ that is full of glowing bacteria called Vibrio fischeri. In the wild, their luminescence is thought to match the moonlight welling down from above and cancel out the squid's shadow, hiding the animal from predators. From below, the squid is invisible. From above, it is adorable. “They're just so beautiful,” says Margaret McFall-Ngai, a zoologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “They're phenomenal lab animals.”


Few things excite McFall-Ngai more than the partnership between the bobtail squid and V. fischeri — and that is after studying it for more than 26 years. Over that time, she has shown that this symbiotic relationship is more intimate than anyone had imagined. She has found that the bacterium out-competes other microbes to establish an entirely faithful relationship with one host. It interacts with the squid's immune system, guides its body clock and shapes its early development by transforming its body.




Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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The real reason dogs roll over when they play

The real reason dogs roll over when they play | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
New research suggests it's not an act of submission but a highly defensive posture and combat tactic VIDEO
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Japanese Company Fills Offices with Cats to Help Employees Unwind and Improve Productivity

Japanese Company Fills Offices with Cats to Help Employees Unwind and Improve Productivity | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
In a cramped city like Tokyo, where owning a pet is a luxury and most apartments have strict no-pets policies, it’s hard for cat lovers to spend quality time with their favorite animals.
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Psychological effects of pets are profound - The Boston Globe

Psychological effects of pets are profound - The Boston Globe | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
We animal lovers have long known that, no matter what life may bring—sickness, sadness or radiant health--pets make us feel better. Numerous studies have documented astonishingly wide-ranging effects. Now researchers can explain the source of our companion animals’ healing powers: our pets profoundly change the biochemistry of our brains.
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Why Do Dogs Watch—and React—to TV? #manipulation #deceit #corporations

Why Do Dogs Watch—and React—to TV? #manipulation #deceit #corporations | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
For Weird Animal Question of the Week, we tackle the question of how man's best friend recognizes animals on the tube, and why our pets often have strong reactions.

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How Female Animals Choose Which Male Animals Get to Bang Them

How Female Animals Choose Which Male Animals Get to Bang Them | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Choosing a mate is a funny thing. While other animal species are probably less likely to make the poor alcohol-fueled choices most of us regret, albeit fondly—and less likely still to wake up in a hungover fog in a strange place the next morning,...
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Need A Pick-Me-Up? Check Out These Animals Made Happier By Prosthetics

Need A Pick-Me-Up? Check Out These Animals Made Happier By Prosthetics | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Humans aren't the only creatures whose lives can be improved by prosthetics. All sorts of animals have developed a better quality of life thanks to prosthetic tails, legs, beaks, and more.
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These adorable giant African rats detect land mines and TB for a living | Running Ponies, Scientific American Blog Network

These adorable giant African rats detect land mines and TB for a living | Running Ponies, Scientific American Blog Network | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
So yesterday, I adopted an unborn land-mine-detecting African giant pouched rat (Cricetomys gambianus) from Tanzania. Did I spend 20 minutes figuring out what I was going ...

Via Marianne PokeBunny Lenaerts
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Rescooped by Jocelyn Stoller from All about water, the oceans, environmental issues
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Giant Clams: Unsung Heroes for Coral

Giant Clams: Unsung Heroes for Coral | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Giant clams have been a hard-to-miss part of coral reef ecosystems for the greater part of the last 38 million years. However, experts will be quick to admit that the part they play in these incredible systems remains rather shrouded in mystery. Now a new study hopes to pull back the veil and further our understanding of these clam colossi.

Via Kathy Dowsett
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Researchers uncover morphological and biomechanical consequences of geckos losing adhesion

Researchers uncover morphological and biomechanical consequences of geckos losing adhesion | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with members affiliated with the University of California, the University of New Orleans and the University of Calgary has uncovered some of the impact of secondary loss or simplification of the adhesive pads on...
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Hero Cat Saves Baby from Freezing to Death

Hero Cat Saves Baby from Freezing to Death | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Masha the long-haired kitty climbed into a box left outside and kept an abandoned baby warm for several hours
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The week in wildlife – in pictures

The week in wildlife – in pictures | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
A ghost crab, ‘kissing’ seals and the return of Oregon’s wolves feature in this week’s round-up of images from the natural world

Via Flora Moon, pdeppisch
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Are you smarter than a rat?

Are you smarter than a rat? | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Meet the scientist who runs rats and people through mazes to find out how intelligent they are.
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Seattle Dog Figures Out Bus, Regularly Rides To Dog Park Solo

Seattle Dog Figures Out Bus, Regularly Rides To Dog Park Solo | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Seattle's public transit system has had a ruff go of things lately, and that has riders smiling.

You see, of the 120 million riders who used the system last year, one of them is actually a dog. Seattle's KOMO-TV reports the 2-year-old black Labrad...
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Slick and slender snake beats short and stubby lizard in sand swimming

Slick and slender snake beats short and stubby lizard in sand swimming | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
For swimming through sand, a slick and slender snake can perform better than a short and stubby lizard.
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No Time for Bats to Rest Easy

No Time for Bats to Rest Easy | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it

Scientists are discovering, the bat immune system is astonishingly tolerant of most pathogens — a trait that could pose risks to people, but that also offers clues to preventing human diseases of aging, including cancer.

 

Evidence is mounting that bats can serve as reservoirs of many of the world’s deadliest viruses, including the pathogens behind Ebola, Marburg and related hemorrhagic fevers; acute respiratory syndromes like SARS and MERS; and even familiar villains like measles and mumps.

 

Yet bats appear largely immune to the many viruses they carry and rarely show signs of the diseases that will rapidly overwhelm any human, monkey, horse, pig or other mammalian host the microbes manage to infiltrate.

 

Scientists have also learned that bats live a seriously long time for creatures of their small size. The insectivorous Brandt’s bat of Eurasia, for example, weighs an average of just six grams, compared with 20 grams for a mouse. But while a mouse is lucky to live for a year, the Brandt’s bat can survive well into its 40s — a disparity between life span and body mass that a report in Nature Communications called “the most extreme” of all mammals.

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Fossil from Skye is new species of marine predator, scientists say

Fossil from Skye is new species of marine predator, scientists say | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Found in 1959, these ancient ichthyosaur bones have now been recognised as a different type from any previously discovered A handful of ancient bones found on the Isle of Skye more than 50 years ago belonged to a new species of marine predator,...
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Baby Aardvark Is the Ultimate Embodiment of "Ugly-Cute"

Baby Aardvark Is the Ultimate Embodiment of "Ugly-Cute" | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Days before Christmas, one of the Colchester Zoo's resident aardvarks, Oq, gave birth. Have you ever seen anything so incredibly, amazingly, simultaneously ugly and cute?
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Spiny monster from the depths of world's oldest lake - environment - 07 January 2015 - New Scientist

Spiny monster from the depths of world's oldest lake - environment - 07 January 2015 - New Scientist | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Russia's Lake Baikal has more than 350 species of amphipod, including this beauty, which is unique to the lake

Via Kathy Dowsett
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Helping Endangered Species From Space | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference

Helping Endangered Species From Space | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Helping Endangered Species From Space - SpaceRef

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Computational Framework Explains How Animals Select Actions with Rewarding Outcomes

Computational Framework Explains How Animals Select Actions with Rewarding Outcomes | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
A key component of survival is learning to associate rewarding outcomes with specific actions, such as searching for food or avoiding predators. Actions are represented in the cortex—the brain's outer layer of neural tissue—and rewarding outcomes activate neurons that release a brain chemical called dopamine. These neuronal signals are sent to the striatum—the input station for a collection of brain structures called the basal ganglia, which play an important role in action selection. Collectively, this evidence suggests that dopamine signals change the strength of connections between cortical and striatal neurons, thereby determining which action is appropriate for a specific set of environmental circumstances. But until now, no model had integrated these strands of evidence to test this widely held hypothesis.

In a study published this week in PLOS Biology, University of Sheffield researchers Kevin Gurney and Peter Redgrave teamed up with Mark Humphries of the University of Manchester to build a computational model that shows how the brain's internal signal for outcome changes the strength of neuronal connections, leading to the selection of rewarded actions and the suppression of unrewarded actions. By bridging the gap between the intricate subtleties of individual neuronal connections and the behavior of the whole animal, the model reveals how several brain signals work together to shape the input from the cortex to the basal ganglia at the interface between actions and their outcomes.

The researchers developed a network model of the whole basal ganglia based on previous electrophysiological studies that investigated the activity of two types of dopamine-responsive cells called D1 and D2 striatal medium spiny neurons. In addition to this action selection model, they developed an independent plasticity model by incorporating experimental data from a previous study to show how the strength of neuronal connections, called synapses, is affected by three factors: the timing of neuronal activity, the type of medium spiny neuron, and dopamine level. Then they linked the two models, testing whether plasticity rules at single synapses between cortical and striatal neurons could give rise to the predicted changes in the activity of the two types of medium spiny neurons, resulting in successful learning of the association between actions and outcomes.

Via Ashish Umre
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Global bird conservation could be four times more cost-effective

Global bird conservation could be four times more cost-effective | animals and prosocial capacities | Scoop.it
Targeting conservation efforts to safeguard biodiversity, rather than focusing on charismatic species, could make current spending on threatened birds four times more effective, a new study has shown.
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