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Posts Tagged "comparative psychology"

The Thoughtful Animal

Cooler Than #SharkWeek: What Can We Learn From the Brains of the Largest Sharks?

A whale shark feeds vertically

Shark Week is upon us, and rather than be fooled by sharky fakery or outright lies, how about some real, true, scientifically-accurate shark science? Here’s a piece I originally wrote in August, 2012. The largest fish in the ocean is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). This massive, migratory fish can grow up to twelve meters [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Koalas and Bison Use the Same Rules for Choosing Mates

koala

While natural selection works operates over an individual’s ability to survive, sexual selection operates over an individual’s ability to mate and successfully sire offspring. In other words, sexual selection is a process through which individuals of a given species struggle to be more reproductively successful. It works in two primary ways, first identified by Charles [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

For Word Learning, Size Matters If You’re A Dog

Gable and Toys

In 1988, a three-year-old child is led into a brightly colored testing room in a psychology department in Bloomington, Indiana. A small toy is brought out and put onto a table in front of the child. The toy was wooden, blue, about two inches square, and U-shaped. “This is a dax.” The researchers picked a [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Cricket Fight Club: How is a Cricket Like a Rat?

When my brother and I were young, we were very careful to share the last bit of dessert equally. It’s not that we were particularly magnanimous. In their wisdom, my parents instituted a rule in our house: one of us would divide the snack in half, and the other would select his half. “You cut, [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Rats, Bees, Brains, and The Best Science Writing Online 2012

I’m still playing a bit of catch-up after last week’s AZA conference. In the meantime, The Best Science Writing Online 2012 was published this week, which includes a piece I originally posted in July, 2011. In honor of the publication, I’m reposting that piece, below. Also, check out my new fortnightly column at BBC Future, [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

What Does A Whale Shark’s Brain Look Like? (And Why Should We Care?)

A whale shark feeds vertically

The largest fish in the ocean is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). This massive, migratory fish can grow up to twelve meters in length, but its enormous mouth is designed to eat the smallest of critters: plankton. While the biggest, the whale shark isn’t the only gigantic filter-feeding shark out there: the basking shark and [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

On Capsaicin: Why Do We Love to Eat Hot Peppers?

Stories of pepper spray have been all over the news lately. On Fox News, Megyn Kelly wondered what all the fuss about this “food product” was, and while pepper spray is no vegetable, the compound that makes pepper spray into a weapon at 2-5.3 million Scoville units, is indeed the same compound that many humans [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

What Can Dolphins Tell Us About The Evolution of Friendship?

A version of this post was originally published on November 18, 2010. Click the archives image to see the original post. Scientists thought they had a pretty good handle on the social interactions of bottlenose dophins (Tursiops). They’ve used the term fission-fusion dynamics to describe dolphin (and non-human primate) society and so far it has [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

If Chickens Like Consonant Music, Will They Hate B.B. King? That’s Not Even the Right Question to Ask

Neuroscience Can’t Explain Wagner (or B.B. King) writes Christopher Shea on the Ideas Market blog at the Wall Street Journal, arguing against the claims that are made in my post from last week about day-old chickens preferring consonant music. I find two problems with his argument: the first concerning methodology, and the second concerning what [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Day Old Chickens Prefer The Same Music That You Do

chicken piano square

You might have more in common with the chicken on your plate than you realize. Sure, you’ve also got two thighs, two legs, two breasts, and two wings (sort of). But new research suggests that chickens might like to rock out to the same tunes you’ve got on your iPod. The kinds of sounds that [...]

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