Many firms have long refused coverage or charge more for pit bulls and other dogs considered more dangerous, but New York and other states say policies shouldn’t be breed specific.
A new study finds that the feline reaction to catnip and silver vine helps to stave off mosquitoes and other bloodsucking insects.
An animal advocacy group had argued that the elephant was being illegally detained at the Bronx Zoo, in a case involving deep ethical questions about the basic rights of highly intelligent animals.
For two years, an array of six underwater microphones tracked the feeding noises of marine mammals newly prevalent in New York waters.
The origin of the domestic fowl is more recent than previously thought, but it may have taken them thousands of years to become food.
The proposal has pit animal rights activists against officials in Foster City, Calif., where Canada geese have been fouling up public spaces with their feces. “It’s everywhere,” the mayor said.
Every spring, as days in the north stretch longer and melting snow trickles into streams, drowsy animals ranging from grizzlies to ground squirrels start to rally from hibernation. It’s tempting to say that that they are “waking up,” but hibernation is more complicated and mysterious than a simple long sleep: Any animal that can spend months underground without eating or drinking and still emerge ready to face the world has clearly mastered an amazing trick of biology.
The roster of animals that hibernate includes all manner of rodents, some amphibians and even a few primates (several species of dwarf lemurs), but bears are literally the biggest hibernators of them all. Adult grizzly and black bears weigh as much as American football players, or more, with the energy and curiosity of preschoolers, but they have no trouble hunkering down for months at time. The choreography that goes into shutting down a creature this big defies easy explanation, says Elena Gracheva, a neurophysiologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. “Hibernation is so complex it requires adaptations at multiple levels,” she says.
Bear hibernation offers important insights into the workings of large mammals, especially us, explains Gracheva, who coauthored an exploration of the physiology of hibernation in the 2020 Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology. A better understanding of the process could potentially change our approach to a wide range of human conditions, including stroke, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s (see sidebar).
Lovebirds — and perhaps other species — seem to confound nature’s strong preference for bilateral bodies.
It is difficult to catch Asian elephants responding to deaths of herd members in the wild, but online videos helped researchers observe the behavior.
Dogs are “really good at reading our emotions,” says one expert. But we’re not so good at reading theirs.
A study of Australian fish that care for offspring through mouthbrooding shows that things underwater are not always as monogamous as they seem.
Why were Bolivian river dolphins swimming around with a large predatory snake in their mouths? “There are so many questions,” one researcher said.
Retrievers that don’t retrieve and Papillons that point are all possible because the genes that shape dog behavior predate modern breeding that focuses on appearance, researchers find.
Rudyard Kipling famously observed in a 1911 poem that “the female of the species is deadlier than the male.” He specifically cited female bears and cobras, but the sentiment would certainly apply to many species of spider, as some female spiders habitually consume the males after mating—a behavior known as sexual cannibalism. The males in one species of orb-weaving spider (Philoponella prominens) have adopted an unusual defense strategy, according to a new paper published in the journal Current Biology. They catapult themselves away immediately after mating in hopes of having another go before being eaten—often flying through the air too quickly for a common camera to capture the details.
This species forms colonies in which spiders have individual webs that are loosely linked to form a conglomerate web complex, according to the authors. These communal webs can house as many as 215 spiders, with a male-to-female ratio of about 1.5. The team surveyed 477 such communal webs in the field, noting that the female spiders rarely left their webs and then usually only if the conglomerate web was destroyed. But the male spiders went from web to web in search of mates once they reached full maturity.
And yes, the females proved to be particularly aggressive during the mating process, which often ended in sexual cannibalism. The male spiders who escaped that fate were able to catapult away quickly once mating had concluded. Male spiders usually produced a dragline anchored to the female’s web during courtship, which remained in place while mating. Once the deed was done and the female spider moved to attack, the male spider pushed himself off the web and swung to safety.
Here’s what the science says about whether your diet can counteract cognitive decline.
A nest with a roof may provide some birds with more protection. But bird species that build simpler nests may be more adaptable to changing conditions.
In this video of a bat fight, is the tiny one a bully, or is it just meting out justice up the food chain?
The humble Columba livia is much more than a rat with wings.
Some pairs of cranes in India, known for their monogamous devotion, seem to bring in a third bird to act like a kind of avian au pair.
A team of Italian scientists describe what they believe is a gaping scar from one of these ancient battles on the neck frill of the Triceratops.
Bird-watchers love to see vagrants, or birds that have traveled far outside their range. But scientists say they have a lot to teach us in a world facing ecological change.
Yakei, the 9-year-old macaque who seized power at a preserve, played the field and mated with at least one male, all while managing to maintain her status as her troop’s alpha.
Every 20 years, New York collects vital information about birds. And gardeners have an important role to play.
Frans de Waal’s “Different” is a fascinating study of gender among monkeys and apes, but its account of human behavior is less satisfying.
Each spring and autumn, the skies in southern Denmark come to life with the swirling displays of hundreds of thousands of starlings, an event known locally as “sort sol.”
A lab in Massachusetts may have finally found an eight-armed cephalopod that can serve as a model organism and assist scientific research.
The bird, which sought prey in a part of China 6 million years ago, had eyes shaped in a way that suggest it was not nocturnal like most owls living today.
Neuroscientists are exploring whether shapes like squares and rectangles — and our ability to recognize them — are part of what makes our species special.
The magpies showed their smarts by helping one another remove tracking harnesses that scientists carefully placed on them.
Studies help explore the ways that animals — whether bold or shy, aggressive or meek, interact with their environment.
Dogs and cats have surprised their owners by gaining weight during the coronavirus pandemic. Veterinarians blame the extra treats and table scraps.
Scientists believe that lions everywhere can climb up into branches, but they’re just not very good at it and need help from the right kind of tree.
In life, animals are rarely treated with the respect due these fellow travelers on earth; when they die, we have one last chance to do so.
Several years ago, we introduced Ars readers to Figaro, a precocious male Goffin’s cockatoo kept in captivity and cared for by scientists in the “Goffin lab” at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. Figaro showed a surprising ability to manipulate single tools to maneuver a tasty nut out of a box. Other cockatoos who repeatedly watched Figaro’s performance were also able to do so. Now, Figaro and his cockatoo cronies are back, having learned how to combine tools—in this case, a stick and a ball—to play a rudimentary form of “golf,” according to a new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.
As Ars’ Science Editor John Timmer explained in 2012, tool use was once thought to be one of the defining features of humans, but examples of it were eventually observed in primates and other mammals. Then birds were observed using tools in the wild, although this behavior was limited to the corvids (crows and jays). Parrots, in contrast, have mostly been noted for their linguistic skills, and there has only been limited evidence that they use anything resembling a tool in the wild. Primarily, they seem to use external objects to position nuts while feeding.
Then along came Figaro. Figaro was playing with a stone one day in the Goffin Lab at the University of Vienna’s Department of Cognitive Biology, led by Alice Auersperg. He accidentally dropped the stone behind a metal divider.
In November 2019, Alessandra Mascaro was observing a community of chimpanzees in the Loango National Park in Gabon as part of her volunteer service with the Ozouga Chimpanzee Project when she noticed some unusual behavior. A chimp named Suzee was inspecting a wound on the foot of her son, Sia. Suzee suddenly caught an insect from a nearby leaf, put it into her mouth for a moment, and then pressed it to Sia’s wound.
Mascaro caught the unusual interaction on video and forwarded it to two scientists on the project: Tobias Deschner, a primatologist with the Ozouga Chimpanzee Project, and Simone Pika, a cognitive biologist at Osnabrück University. The researchers thought the interaction could be suggestive of prosocial behavior among chimpanzees and the capacity for empathy—a question of heated debate in the field—and they spent the next 15 months looking for other examples of this type of wound-treating behavior. All told, they recorded 76 such instances and reported their findings in a new correspondence published in the journal Current Biology.
There are between 42 and 45 chimps in the Loango National Park community. According to the authors, the males are much more prone to open wounds than females (with a ratio of 63:13) since they tend to have more aggressive interactions. The wound-treating incidents (both self-applied and applying insects to the wounds of others) were filmed whenever possible, and that footage was transcribed into detailed written reports. In some cases, there was no video footage, so the researchers wrote a detailed report the same day it occurred.
New research aims to shed light on the social habits of the popular, but often misunderstood, animal.
Recordings in seas off Australia proved that the predatory prowess of killer whales is inescapable, even for the adults of the largest species that ever lived.
Yakei became a rare alpha female of a macaque troop in a nature reserve, but a kind of simian love triangle may endanger her grip on power.
Scientists have discovered a new anatomical structure that allows lunge-feeding whales to take in massive amounts of water without choking.
Researchers say the human concepts of intergenerational wealth and inequality are useful for studying some animals’ behavior.
Scientists discovered a mammoth nesting ground with an estimated 60 million icefish nests in the Weddell Sea.
Two men lay unconscious on a frigid Vermont night until Tinsley, a Shiloh Shepherd, led the authorities back to the site of the wreck.
A population of strange canids in Texas could hold the key to reviving the highly endangered red wolf.
“What makes machines, animals, and people smart?” asks the subtitle of Paul Thagard’s new book. Not “Are computers smarter than humans? or “will computers ever be smarter than humans?” or even “are computers and animals conscious, sentient, or self-aware (whatever any of that might mean)?” And that’s unfortunate, becausethough most people are probably more concerned with questions like those.
Thagard is a philosopher and cognitive scientist, and he has written many books about the brain, the mind, and society. In this one, he defines what intelligence is and delineates the 12 features and 8 mechanisms that he thinks It’s built from,comprise it which allows him toso that he can compare the intelligences of these three very different types of beings.
He starts with a riff on the Aristotelian conception of virtue ethics. IWhereas in that case, a good person is defined as someone who possesses certain virtues;, in Thagard’sthis case, a smart person is defined as someone who epitomizes certain ways of thinking. Confucius, Mahatma Ghandi and Angela Merkel excelled at social innovation; Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver excelled at technological innovation; he lists Beethoven, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jane Austen, and Ray Charles as some of his favorite artistic geniuses; and Charles Darwin and Marie Curie serve as his paragons of scientific discoverers. Each of these people epitomizes different aspects of human intelligence, including creativity, emotion, problem solving, and using analogies.
A Harvard professor for 46 years, he was an expert on insects and explored how natural selection and other forces could influence animal behavior. He then applied his research to humans.
First, spot the bear.
Orangutan mothers will teach their young to forage for food — then cut them off when they are old enough to know better, new research shows.
‘Sharks,’ a new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, proves that humans are far more dangerous to these animals than they are to us.
The mosquitofish is wreaking havoc on native Australian marine life. In a new study, scientists tried to frighten it with a look-alike of its natural foe.
The magazine’s Ethicist columnist on what terms we can attach to our plans to help loved ones — and more.