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Posts Tagged "Animal Behavior"

Anecdotes from the Archive

Was This Gazelle’s Death an Accident or a Suicide?

Suicide by gazelle article

Gazelles have polygynous mating habits. Usually, males will mate with many different females throughout their lifetimes. Yet, this short article from the August 14, 1847, Scientific American suggests a monogamous bond between gazelle that was so strong it produced a tragic ending: While the article suggests grief to be the culprit of the male gazelle’s [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Nothing Here But a Hole in the Ocean . . .

japatella_200

If you live in the upper ocean, it pays to be transparent to avoid the gaze of Things Bigger and Hungrier Than You, since sunlight will pass right through. But if you live deep in the ocean, where predators often come equipped standard with searchlights, being transparent means  lighting up like a Christmas tree under [...]

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Brainwaves

Dear Evolution: Letters of Gripe and Gratitude

By Mara Grunbaum and Ferris Jabr Dear Evolution, Let’s start with the wings: did you really have to turn them into flippers? Don’t get us wrong—we appreciate the swimming and diving talents. But couldn’t you have come up with some kind of compromise so that we could still fly? Maybe a 2-in-1 special, a wing/flipper [...]

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Brainwaves

Does Self-Awareness Require a Complex Brain?

The computer, smartphone or other electronic device on which you are reading this article has a rudimentary brain—kind of.* It has highly organized electrical circuits that store information and behave in specific, predictable ways, just like the interconnected cells in your brain. On the most fundamental level, electrical circuits and neurons are made of the [...]

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Culturing Science

Weather Radar Captures Flocks of Birds Taking Off

birds-radar-square

Several times a week, if not every day, I look at Doppler radar maps so I know whether to take an umbrella when I leave the house. These maps, shown on TV weather reports or websites, are commonplace enough that they don’t feel like impressive technology: mere green blobs slowly shifting across the screen at [...]

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Dog Spies

A New Flock of Researchers: Citizen Scientists in Animal Behavior

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Wow! You study animal behavior. So cool! People must have a field day with you at parties. When they first meet you, they probably think you just look at animals all day and travel to exotic locations. La di da, oh look there’s a tiger. But we know the truth. Studying animal behavior is a [...]

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Expeditions

Call of the Orangutan: Injuries and Their Limitations

Gradually the wounds became better, and the color came back, indicating a higher level of blood supply. Siboy would often try to groom his mother, picking at the open wounds.

This last month has been extremely stressful for all of us at Sikundur research station in North Sumatra while we’ve been following two of our favorite orangutans, Suci and her 3-year-old infant Siboy. As I mentioned in a previous blog, while I was in Medan for a break the boys sent me a text saying [...]

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Expeditions

Call of the Orangutan: How to Follow an Orangutan

Siboy

In my previous post, I wrote about the first task in studying orangutan behavior: finding the animals. In this one I’ll explain the second major task: following them. First things first, not to spoil anyone’s ideas about the glamor of being an orangutan researcher, but in my honest opinion the majority of “follows” are awful! [...]

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Expeditions

Call of the Orangutan: How to Find an Orangutan

Field assistant Ben searches for an orangutan at location A425 on the Sikundur grid.

While many animal researchers use fancy scientific methods to analyze data and samples they’ve collected, the mechanics of virtually every animal behavior study begins with finding an animal or animals and recording its or their behavior at a given interval to produce what’s called an ethogram. So, in this blog I’ll be running through the [...]

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Expeditions

Call of the Orangutan: An Ape Named James

Siboy

It has been an exceptionally exciting and productive first month for me at the Sikundur research station. I couldn’t have asked for much more in terms of data, and it’s been so hectic that sitting here in Medan, the capital city of North Sumatra, it seems like far longer than a month since I started! [...]

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Expeditions

Call of the Orangutan: Welcome to Camp

The research camp centers around a cabin built by Leuser International Foundation that was renovated in 2013

It’s taken a bit longer than I’d initially anticipated, but I’m finally at my first field site, Sikundur in North Sumatra, which will be my home for the next eight months. The research and monitoring station is located in the east of the spectacular Gunung Leuser National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, which is [...]

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Guest Blog

Getting to Know Whale Vaginas in 7 Steps

Credit: Gregory "Greg" Smith via Flickr

It’s not easy to study a whale vagina. But it is necessary. Right now, penises get far more attention than vaginas in the science world. (It’s also apparent in the museum scene, too—sadly, today, there’s no vagina equivalent to rival the Icelandic Phallocological Museum). Surprisingly, the research imbalance is likely due to longstanding gender stereotypes [...]

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Guest Blog

Good Dads and Not-So-Good Dads in the Animal Kingdom

Happy father’s day! First off, to every father out there (biological or not), this is the time where we stand up and say thank you. We may not always show it, but we love you and appreciate everything you have done for us thus far. Today is also the day where we celebrate the uniqueness [...]

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Guest Blog

What Bats, Bombs and Sharks Taught Us about Hearing [Video]

The most surprising part of this story was that they managed to record brainwave activity from the sharks. This tale is about one of the most fascinating figures in the history of neuroscience: Dr. Robert Galambos. This is his story. Right: Robert Galambos, MD, PhD  Source: The New York Times Decades ago, Dr. Galambos discovered [...]

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Guest Blog

So You Think You Know Why Animals Play…

The lush riverside vegetation sways as a herd of elephant wends its way between the broken pools. Standing at the top of an embankment, a half-grown male is watching a larger elephant trudge up the slope toward it. Without warning, the youngster squats down on his haunches (just like a dog) and launches himself down [...]

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Guest Blog

Bambi or Bessie: Are wild animals happier?

We, as emotional beings, place a high value on happiness and joy. Happiness is more than a feeling to us – it’s something we require and strive for. We’re so fixated on happiness that we define the pursuit of it as a right. We seek happiness not only for ourselves and our loved ones, but [...]

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Guest Blog

Stealth percussionists of the animal world

Animals may not be able to predict earthquakes, but many—from elephants to spiders—are quite adept at detecting vibrations that are imperceptible to humans. Yes, there’s a whole world out there we are mostly unaware of. It jiggles and gyrates and shakes and vibrates as waves travel through solid substrates such as sand and tree trunks. [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Self-Controlled Crows Ace the Marshmallow Test

Are four treats better than two? Not if you’re a crow picking a favorite snack. Crows and ravens hold off on gobbling a tidbit when they can see a better one coming after a short wait. But they’ll only act with restraint if the future treat is something they like more than what they already [...]

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Not bad science

Unique Science Communication: Isabella Rossellini

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I recently wrote an article about science communication, and in it mentioned that people can communicate science in many different ways using many different types of media. One more unusual way is what Isabella Rossellini has adopted. Using real animal behaviour science, she conveys it by dressing up as the animal in question, and presenting [...]

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Observations

Can You Predict a Monkey’s Social Status by Looking at Its Genes?

rhesus macaques in India

Rhesus macaques, which are some of the best studied of all monkeys, establish hierarchies in their social groups. Whenever two macaques tussle over a piece of food, say, or the right to mate, the monkey with the higher rank usually wins. Primatologists have established that monkeys of a lower social status are generally more stressed [...]

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Observations

Animals Exposed to Virtual Reality Hold an Emergency Meeting [Video]

On the evening of Wednesday, March 21, a mouse scurried into a storm drain near the southeast corner of Central Park in New York City. If anyone noticed the mouse at all, whatever shallow impression the sight of a Manhattan rodent made on their minds likely vanished within seconds, rinsed away by a new wave [...]

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Observations

Tiny, Tree-Dwelling Primate Called Tarsier Sends and Receives Ultrasonic Calls

Let’s be honest: tarsiers look odd. Among the smallest of all primates, most species of tarsier would fit easily in the palm of your hand. They have long, slender, largely hairless tails and elongated fingers with knobby knuckles and mushroom-cap finger pads. To fully confront the tarsier’s bizarre anatomy, you must stare it in the [...]

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The Primate Diaries

Does Nature Need to be Nurtured?

"Boys will by boys" by Nathaniel Gold

Some say that the differences between boys and girls are just aping nature, but studies of primates tell a more complex story “Boys will be boys” is a popular refrain in schools. A bit of rough and tumble at break time? That’s natural. Likewise, “girls will be girls” is accepted without question. Some feel justified [...]

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The Primate Diaries

Helen’s Choice: Female Multiple Mating in the Natural World

“Helen would never have yielded herself to a man from a foreign country, if she had known that the sons of Achaeans would come after her and bring her back. Heaven put it in her heart to do wrong, and she gave no thought to that sin, which has been the source of all our [...]

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The Primate Diaries

We Contain Multitudes: Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, and the Song of Empathy

"Speech" by Nathaniel Gold

In the struggle for existence how do we herald the better angels of our nature? Author’s Note: On Tuesday I will be traveling to Manchester, England for the International Conference for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine where I’ll be giving my talk entitled “A Historical Epistemology of Empathy from Darwin to De Waal.” [...]

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The Primate Diaries

The Gospel of Wealth Fails the Inequity Test in Primates

"Andrew Carnegie" by Nathaniel Gold

Author’s Note: The following originally appeared at ScienceBlogs.com and was subsequently a finalist in the 3 Quarks Daily Science Prize judged by Richard Dawkins. Fairness is the basis of the social contract. As citizens we expect that when we contribute our fair share we should receive our just reward. When social benefits are handed out [...]

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The Primate Diaries

Punishing Cheaters Promotes the Evolution of Cooperation

"Primates Playing Poker" by Nathaniel Gold

Humans are one of the most cooperative species on the planet. Our ability to coordinate behavior and work collaboratively with others has allowed us to create the natural world’s largest and most densely populated societies, outside of deep sea microbial mats and a few Hymenoptera mega-colonies. However, a key problem when trying to understand the [...]

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The Primate Diaries

The Joker’s Wild: On the Ecology of Gun Violence in America

Joker by Nathaniel Gold square

The United States is the deadliest wealthy country in the world. Can science help us explain, or even solve, our national crisis? His tortured and sadistic grin beamed like a full moon on that dark night. “Madness, as you know, is like gravity,” he cackled. “All it takes is a little push.” But once the [...]

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The Primate Diaries

Raising Darwin’s Consciousness: Sarah Blaffer Hrdy on the Evolutionary Lessons of Motherhood

"Sarah Blaffer Hrdy" by Nathaniel Gold

Click here for Part One: An Interview with Sarah Blaffer Hrdy on Mother Nature As I explored in my article, “Women and Children First”, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy has faced innumerable challenges in the course of her scientific career. However, part of what makes her work so innovative and exciting to read is how she’s used [...]

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The Primate Diaries

Raising Darwin’s Consciousness: An Interview with Sarah Blaffer Hrdy on Mother Nature

Hrdy Square

Click here for Part Two: Sarah Blaffer Hrdy on the Evolutionary Lessons of Motherhood In my cover article out this week in Times Higher Education I featured the life and work of famed primatologist and evolutionary theorist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. While she never intended to be a radical, she has nevertheless had a radical influence [...]

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The Primate Diaries

Women and Children First

Tantrum

For decades the science of child-rearing was guided by patriarchal ideas, but now the cradle rocks to an older rhythm. The infants had been arranged into neat rows, swaddled in aseptic white cloth the way precision instruments would be secured for shipping. Masked, hooded and gloved nurses cautiously moved down the aisle to record vital [...]

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The Primate Diaries

Social Networks Matter: Friends Increase the Size of Your Brain

"The Social Network" by Nathaniel Gold

New research confirms that social complexity enriches cognitive growth. Could having more Facebook friends actually make you smarter? Let’s face it, as a species we’re obsessed with ourselves. The vast majority of us spend our days at work or school where a considerable amount of time is taken up not discussing the important issues of [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Sleeping Beauty

See those stuffed cheeks

Still bringing you Pouched Rat adorableness. Video recorded by M Sellers.

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Research Snapshots 7

Pouched Rat Social interaction 2

Social Interaction observation of African giant pouched rats, Cricetomys ansorgei. The entire size of the social interaction apparatus is about 2 m x 1.25 m and about 60 cm tall. It is made of metal. This divided multi-chamber allows safe interaction between individual. Pouched rats may climb up or down the gratings but they can’t [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Pouched Rat Tasty Treats

African Giant Pouched Rat Research #DNLeeLab Cricetomys ansorgei African Pouched Rat eating an alfalfa cube

I’m sure this translates to Om Nom Nom!

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Pouched Rat having a treat

African Giant Pouched rat Gambian Pouched rat Cricetomys ansorgei in a cage

This is a video recording of me introducing a new snack to the African Giant Pouched Rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) – fresh pumpkin seeds. This fellow really seems to like it. I’m super impressed by this species dexterity. His handling of this seeds shows that. This is just a snap shot of an experiment I am [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Pouched Rat Research Gif

Barnes Maze for Pouched Rat

This is a series of shots of me cleaning this Barnes Maze between behavioral observations of my research subjects, the African Giant Pouched Rat, Cricetomys ansorgei.  The diameter of the table or Barnes Maze is 6 feet across, and is nearly feet off of the ground. Which is why I use an extended squeegee and [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Research Snapshots 4

Snack time.

Because I know you all have missed seeing the rats. Here are some photos of the most adorable research subjects, EVER!! These photos are from novel food introduction tests.   He has a treat (the green alfalfa cube in the lower right part of the frame) but he is getting into pre-nap posture. Hey, I’m [...]

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The Urban Scientist

FAQ about #DNLeeLab research and African Giant Pouched Rats

African Giant Pouched Rat

I like sharing science with people; and that includes demystifying research by lifting the curtain and showing people the day-by-day stuff that my research project involves. Since I take to Twitter to give updates, quips, and yes wise-cracks, I tend to get a lot of questions – very good and interesting questions about what I [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: #DNLeeLab Research Snapshots 2

The Urban Scientist

Science, Social Media & Diversity at the Animal Behavior Society Meeting #2013ABS

I was very excited to organize a workshop on Science, Social Media and Diversity at the 50th Annual Meeting of the Animal Behavior Society at the University of Colorado-Boulder. My co-presenter, Samuel Diaz-Munoz of CienciaPR gave an amazing presentation on how a venerable bilingual, culturally relevant science community and outreach vehicle was built via social [...]

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The Urban Scientist

#DispatchesDNLee: Mystery scat producer identified – African Civet

African Civet camera trap #DispatchesDNLee side by side photos

I opened up a new field site for this field season. It was a beast! Although I only caught two individual Pouched rats over the 80 x80 m square grid, it was a great effort. And much was learned. In addition to non-target captures in my live traps, I also put out camera traps. I [...]

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