Sensing the World Anew Through Other Species

Ed Yong talks about “An Immense World,” and Terry Alford discusses “In the Houses of Their Dead.”

#alford-terry, #an-immense-world-how-animal-senses-reveal-the-hidden-realms-around-us-book, #animal-cognition, #books-and-literature, #booth-john-wilkes, #in-the-houses-of-their-dead-the-lincolns-the-booths-and-the-spirits-book, #lincoln-abraham, #occult-sciences, #yong-ed-1981

Happy the Elephant Isn’t a Person, Top New York Court Rules

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.

#animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #bronx-nyc, #bronx-zoo-wildlife-conservation-park, #elephants, #fahey-eugene-m, #habeas-corpus, #new-york-court-of-appeals, #nonhuman-rights-project, #rivera-jenny-1960, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #tuitt-alison-y, #wise-steven-m, #zoos

What the simple mathematical abilities of animals can tell us about ourselves

What the simple mathematical abilities of animals can tell us about ourselves

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

We often think of mathematical ability as being uniquely human, but in fact, scientists have found that many animal species—including lions, chimpanzees, birds, bees, ants, and fish—seem to possess at least a rudimentary counting ability or number sense. Crows can understand the concept of zero. And a study published in April found that both stingrays and cichlids can take this rudimentary “numerosity” to the next level, performing simple addition and subtraction for a small number of objects (in the range of 1 to 5).

The latter study’s conclusion doesn’t surprise cognitive psychologist Brian Butterworth, an emeritus professor at University College London and author of a new book, Can Fish Count? What Animals Reveal About our Uniquely Mathematical Minds.

“There are lots of animals that can do addition and subtraction,” Butterworth told Ars. “Bees can. Bees can represent zero as well. So it’s not surprising to me that stingrays and cichlids can do it.” His book explores how the ability to process mathematical information and extract numerical data from their environment is critical to an animal’s ability to survive and thrive. In fact, there might just be an innate understanding of math at its most basic level that was passed down the evolutionary chain from our most distant common ancestors.

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#animal-cognition, #animals, #biology, #books, #cognitive-neuroscience, #cognitive-psychology, #evolution, #gaming-culture, #mathematical-ability, #science

Elephants in Mourning Spotted on YouTube by Scientists

It is difficult to catch Asian elephants responding to deaths of herd members in the wild, but online videos helped researchers observe the behavior.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #crowdsourcing-internet, #elephants, #far-east-south-and-southeast-asia-and-pacific-areas, #india, #research, #royal-society-open-science-journal, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #your-feed-science, #youtube-com

What Your Dog’s Behavior Means

Dogs are “really good at reading our emotions,” says one expert. But we’re not so good at reading theirs.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #content-type-service, #dogs, #happiness

Spinal Fluid From Young Mice Sharpened Memories of Older Rodents

Researchers identified a protein in the fluid that could boost the cognition of aging animals — and might lead to future treatments for people.

#alzheimers-disease, #animal-cognition, #elderly, #memory, #mice, #parkinsons-disease, #research, #science-and-technology, #your-feed-science, #youth

Staring death in the face: Chimpanzees are drawn to skulls of their own species

A chimpanzee named Ayumu participates in an eye-tracking session in an experimental booth.

Enlarge / A chimpanzee named Ayumu participates in an eye-tracking session in an experimental booth. (credit: A. Goncalves et al., 2022)

Swiss primatologist Christophe Boesch once commented on a picture of a chimpanzee skull, pondering, “What goes on in the chimpanzee’s mind when they see such a sight in the forest?” We might not yet be able to suss out what chimps are thinking regarding their own mortality, but they do show a strong preference for the faces and skulls of their fellow chimps, according to a recent paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. They share this attraction to faces with humans, and the recognition of chimp skulls may be a form of face pareidolia (the ability to perceive faces in inanimate objects).

Chimpanzees are known to share some unusual traits with elephants, including being capable of recognizing themselves in the mirror and showing interest in injured or deceased members of their own species. In fact, elephants have been observed showing interest not just in elephant corpses, but in bones and tusks. It has also been suggested that elephants “visit” the bones of their deceased relatives.

A 2006 study of African elephants conducted by scientists at the University of Sussex found that the elephants showed more interest in the skulls (or tusks) of their own species than the skulls of other animals (such as a buffalo or rhinoceros). However, the study found no evidence that the elephants could recognize the remains of close kin, concluding that this observed behavior is due simply to their general attraction for elephant remains.

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#animal-cognition, #animals, #chimpanzees, #face-pareidolia, #science, #thanatology

The Search for a Model Octopus That Won’t Die After Laying Its Eggs

A lab in Massachusetts may have finally found an eight-armed cephalopod that can serve as a model organism and assist scientific research.

#animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #brain, #genetic-engineering, #genetics-and-heredity, #laboratories-and-scientific-equipment, #marine-biological-laboratory, #octopus, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Is Geometry a Language That Only Humans Know?

Neuroscientists are exploring whether shapes like squares and rectangles — and our ability to recognize them — are part of what makes our species special.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #artificial-intelligence, #brain, #computers-and-the-internet, #france, #language-and-languages, #mathematics, #monkeys-and-apes, #psychology-and-psychologists, #symbols, #your-feed-science

Australia’s Clever Birds Did Not Consent to This Science Experiment

The magpies showed their smarts by helping one another remove tracking harnesses that scientists carefully placed on them.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #australia, #australian-field-ornithology-journal, #birds, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Finnegan, Dog Known for His Exemplary Nose, Dies at 14

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.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #animals, #deaths-obituaries, #dogs, #new-york-times, #news-and-news-media, #newspapers

Figaro the cockatoo is back and combining tools to “golf” for nutty reward

Figaro the cockatoo displays his “primate level” combination tool-using skills by playing a cockatoo version of “golf,” and choosing the correct hole for a cashew reward. Two other cockatoos figured out different tool-using techniques to achieve the same result. (Goffin Lab)

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.

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#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #animals, #biology, #cockatoos, #science

Watch this mama chimp treat her son’s open wound by applying insect “poultice”

A chimp named Suzee inspects a wound on the foot of her adolescent son, Sia, then catches an insect out of the air, puts it in her mouth, presses it between her lips, and applies it to the wound while her daughter, Sassandra, observes her. (Alessandra Mascaro)

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.

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#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #biology, #chimpanzees, #primate-studies, #primates, #science, #zoology

Dog Is Hailed as ‘Real-Life Lassie’ After Leading Police to Truck Crash

Two men lay unconscious on a frigid Vermont night until Tinsley, a Shiloh Shepherd, led the authorities back to the site of the wreck.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #dogs, #rescues, #shiloh-shepherd, #traffic-accidents-and-safety, #vermont

Hoping for a Dog Phone? You May Have a Long Wait.

A scientist in Scotland tested a so-called DogPhone to let her dog make video calls. He did use it, but mostly by mistake.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #dogs, #pets, #research, #university-of-glasgow

Can an Athlete’s Blood Enhance Brainpower?

Scientists who injected idle mice with blood from athletic mice found improvements in learning and memory. The findings could have implications for Alzheimer’s research and beyond.

#alzheimers-disease, #animal-cognition, #brain, #elderly, #exercise, #longevity, #memory, #mice, #nature-journal, #proteins, #research, #stanford-university, #tests-medical, #veterans, #veterans-affairs-department, #your-feed-science

How Bat Moms Give Bat Pups Their Sense of Direction

Scientists were surprised to discover that at least one bat species carries its young to an unsupervised drop-off point night after night.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #bats, #current-biology-journal, #israel, #navigation, #reproduction-biological, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

How to Map a Fly Brain in 20 Million Easy Steps

An enormous new analysis of the wiring of the fruit fly brain is a milestone for the young field of modern connectomics, scientists say.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #brain, #elife-journal, #flies, #janelia-farm-research-campus-howard-hughes-medical-institute, #jayaraman-vivek-1971, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science

These Singing Lemurs Have Rhythm

For the first time, researchers have found a nonhuman animal that seems to have a sense of the beat.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #current-biology-journal, #evolution-biology, #lemurs, #madagascar, #max-planck-institute-for-psycholinguistics, #music, #ravignani-andrea, #research, #your-feed-science

I Can’t Stop Wondering What’s Going On Inside My Cat’s Head

How my new pets got me to consider life’s deepest mysteries.

#animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #animals, #artificial-intelligence, #cats, #descartes-rene, #dogs, #philosophy

When Sea Snakes Attack, Scientists Blame Sex Drive

Sea snakes aren’t angry when they aggressively swim at divers, scientists say. They’re just confused and looking to mate.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #reproduction-biological, #scientific-reports-journal, #snakes, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Australia’s Trash Parrots Invent New Skill in Suburbs

Sydney’s clever and adaptable sulfur-crested cockatoos learn how to pry open garbage bins by watching one another.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #birds, #evolution-biology, #parrots, #research, #science-journal, #sydney-australia, #waste-materials-and-disposal, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Andrea Arnold Has Directed A-Listers. Her Latest Star? This Cow

Arnold’s new documentary, “Cow,” is one of the most moving films at Cannes. “A few times, I’ve just burst into tears about it,” she says.

#animal-cognition, #arnold-andrea, #cannes-international-film-festival, #cattle, #content-type-personal-profile, #cow-movie, #documentary-films-and-programs

How Octopuses Upend What We Know About Ourselves

What these mysterious sea creatures can teach us of the wonders of consciousness.

#animal-cognition, #audio-neutral-informative, #audio-positive-happy, #montgomery-sy-1958, #octopus

Did a Cuttlefish Write This?

Octopuses and squid are full of cephalopod character. But more scientists are making the case that cuttlefish hold the key to unlocking evolutionary secrets about intelligence.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #cuttlefish, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #memory, #octopus, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Magic Tricks May Fool You, but These Birds Can See Through Them

A small experiment using sleights of hand and illusions offers insights into how birds and people perceive the world.

#animal-cognition, #birds, #cambridge-university, #magic-and-magicians, #proceedings-of-the-national-academy-of-sciences, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

The ‘Talking’ Dog of TikTok

Bunny, an internet-famous sheepadoodle, has brought attention to a new area of study within animal cognition: the use of assistive technology for language acquisition.

#animal-cognition, #dogs, #instagram-inc, #social-media, #tiktok-bytedance, #voice-and-speech

What cats’ love of boxes and squares can tell us about their visual perception

Like most cats, nothing delights Ariel more than an empty box in which to lounge. This might tell us something about feline visual perception of shapes and contours, per a new study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Enlarge / Like most cats, nothing delights Ariel more than an empty box in which to lounge. This might tell us something about feline visual perception of shapes and contours, per a new study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science. (credit: Sean Carroll)

It is a truth universally acknowledged—at least by those of the feline persuasion—that an empty box on the floor must be in want of a cat. Ditto for laundry baskets, suitcases, sinks, and even cat carriers (when not used as transport to the vet). This behavior is generally attributed to the fact that cats feel safer when squeezed into small spaces, but it might also be able to tell us something about feline visual perception. That’s the rationale behind a new study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science with a colorful title: “If I fits I sits: A citizen science investigation into illusory contour susceptibility in domestic cats (Felis silvers catus).”

The paper was inspired in part by a 2017 viral Twitter hashtag, #CatSquares, in which users posted pictures of their cats sitting inside squares marked out on the floor with tape—kind of a virtual box. The following year, lead author Gabriella Smith, a graduate student at Hunter College (CUNY) in New York City, attended a lecture by co-author Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere, who heads the Thinking Dog Center at Hunter. Byosiere studies canine behavior and cognition, and she spoke about dogs’ susceptibility to visual illusions.  While playing with her roommate’s cat later that evening, Smith recalled the Twitter hashtag and wondered if she could find a visual illusion that looked like a square to test on cats.

Smith found it in the work of the late Italian psychologist and artist Gaetano Kanizsa, who was interested in illusory (subjective) contours that visually evoke the sense of an edge in the brain even if there isn’t really a line or edge there. The Kanizsa square consists of four objects shaped like Pac-Man, oriented with the “mouth” facing inward to form the four corners of a square. Even better, there was a 1988 study that used the Kanizsa square to investigate the susceptibility of two young female cats to illusory contours. The study concluded that, yes, cats are susceptible to the Kanizsa square illusion, suggesting that they perceive subjective contours much like humans.

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#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #catsquare-challenge, #domestic-cats, #kanizsa-illusion, #science

Why Grumpy Dogs Outperform Friendly Ones on Some Learning Tests

Dogs that would not be the first choice of many pet owners do better than some of the more agreeable fellows when they have to learn from a stranger.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #budapest-hungary, #dogs, #oregon-state-university, #udell-monique-a-r, #university-of-pennsylvania, #working-dog-center, #your-feed-science

The Family Dog Is in Sync With Your Kids

Dogs orient and move in synchrony with family members, which may have implications for the emotional development of people and pets.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #animal-cognition-journal, #children-and-childhood, #dogs, #emotions, #exercise, #oregon-state-university, #pets, #research, #udell-monique-a-r, #youth

Cuttlefish can pass the marshmallow test

An aquatic invertebrate similar to a squid floats in an aquarium.

Enlarge / A common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis, in the Marine Resources Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA. A new study finds the cuttlefish can delay gratification—a key feature of the famous “marshmallow test.” (credit: Alexandra Schnell)

Certain species show a remarkable ability to delay gratification, notably great apes, corvids, and parrots, while other species do not (such as rodents, chickens, and pigeons.) Add the cuttlefish to the former category.

Scientists administered an adapted version of the Stanford marshmallow test to cuttlefish and found the cephalopods could delay gratification—that is, wait a bit for preferred prey rather than settling for a less desirable prey. Cuttlefish also performed better in a subsequent learning test, according to a new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. It’s the first time such a link between self-control and intelligence has been found in a non-mammalian species.

As we’ve previously reported, the late Walter Mischel’s landmark behavioral study involved 600 kids between the ages of four and six, all culled from Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School. He would give each child a marshmallow and give them the option of eating it immediately if they chose. But if they could wait 15 minutes, they would get a second marshmallow as a reward. Then Mischel would leave the room, and a hidden video camera would tape what happened next.

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#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #biology, #cephalopods, #convergent-evolution, #cuttlefish, #marshmallow-test, #science

Humans Are Animals. Let’s Get Over It.

It’s astonishing how relentlessly Western philosophy has strained to prove we are not squirrels.

#animal-cognition, #animals, #aristotle, #philosophy, #plato-428-348-bc

Octopuses Have a Secret Sense to Keep Their 8 Arms Out of Trouble

Even when an octopus can’t see light with its eyes, its arms seem to know it is there.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #journal-of-experimental-biology, #light, #octopus, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

How an Eight-Sided ‘Egg’ Ended Up in a Robin’s Nest

An experiment by evolutionary biologists offers new insights into birds’ brains.

#3-d-printers, #animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #birds, #eggs, #royal-society-open-science-journal, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

The Problem With Problem Sharks

A marine biologist’s ideas for singling out sharks that attack humans have prompted objections from other shark scientists.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #clua-eric, #conservation-of-resources, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #french-polynesia-france, #hunting-and-trapping, #indian-ocean, #marine-biology, #research, #reunion-island, #sharks, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Cuttlefish Took Something Like a Marshmallow Test. Many Passed.

It turns out that camouflage isn’t the only talent these cephalopods have.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #cuttlefish, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #research, #royal-society-open-science-journal, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Watch Octopuses Punch Fish Like Eight-Armed Bullies of the Sea

The solitary cephalopods occasionally join a hunting party with fish, then lash out for reasons that scientists are studying.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #ecology-journal, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #octopus, #red-sea, #research, #sampaio-eduardo, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

To Study Blinking, a Scientist Needed a Literal Bird’s Eye View

It took a customized headpiece to monitor when and how much a grackle blinked in flight.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #biology-letters-journal, #birds, #cameras, #eyes-and-eyesight, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Kangaroos Can Communicate With Humans, Study Says

Researchers say that kangaroos are the first wild animals to exhibit interspecies communication that is more commonly seen in animals that have evolved alongside humans.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #australia, #kangaroos, #research, #university-of-sydney

A New Breed of Animal Documentary

“Gunda” and “My Octopus Teacher” present creatures as distinct beings with qualities that have nothing to do with humans.

#animal-cognition, #documentary-films-and-programs, #ehrlich-pippa, #foster-craig-filmmaker, #gunda-movie, #kossakovsky-viktor, #my-octopus-teacher-movie, #reed-james-filmmaker

Who Will Win the ‘Genius Dog Contest?’ Watch the Competition Begin

Scientists in Hungary are streaming experiments with dogs that know many words, featuring them in a contest of canine intelligence.

#animal-cognition, #budapest-hungary, #contests-and-prizes, #dogs, #fugazza-claudia, #your-feed-science

Meet a Bee With a Very Big Brain

New research suggests there is a relationship between the diversity of a bee’s diet and the size of its croissant-shaped brain.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #bees, #brain, #insects, #proceedings-of-the-royal-society-b-journal, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

In This Woodpecker Kingdom, War Is a Spectator Sport

When prime habitat is up for grabs, acorn woodpeckers travel from all around to see who will win.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #california, #current-biology-journal, #mexico, #oregon, #research, #woodpeckers, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Helen Macdonald Offers a Bird’s-Eye View of the Natural World

“Vesper Flights” is a collection of essays exploring the connection between humans and the world at large.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #birds, #books-and-literature, #conservation-of-resources, #falcons, #hawks-birds, #macdonald-helen-author, #vesper-flights-book

To Break a Horse, and a Woman

How do prey animals stay safe in a world out to get them? And how would I?

#animal-cognition, #deer, #horses

There Are Wasps in the Yard. You’d Better Get to Know Them.

They buzz. They hover. Sometimes they sting. But how much do you really know about these insects that can menace our summers?

#animal-cognition, #content-type-service, #hornets-insects, #invasive-species, #lawns, #picnics, #summer-season, #wasps-insects, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

How Exercise May Bolster the Brain

Exercise prompts the liver to pump out a little-known protein that appears to rejuvenates the brain, a new study found.

#animal-cognition, #animals, #brain, #elderly, #exercise, #mice, #rodents, #science-journal

Wild Cockatoos Are Just as Smart as Lab-Raised Ones

Previous research suggested that spending a lot of time with humans might make animals more innovative. These birds had another idea.

#animal-behavior, #animal-cognition, #birds, #indonesia, #parrots, #scientific-reports-journal, #university-of-vienna, #your-feed-science

When Cadaver Dogs Pick Up a Scent, Archaeologists Find Where to Dig

Recent research highlights the power of the canine nose to uncover buried remains from ancient human history.

#animal-cognition, #archaeology-and-anthropology, #arts-and-antiquities-looting, #croatia, #dogs, #florida, #forensic-science, #mississippi, #native-americans, #smells-and-odors, #tombs-and-tombstones, #your-feed-science

Doing the Bump With the Belugas

An isolated corner of Manitoba is one of the few places left in the world where humans are the outsiders on display for the wildlife to observe.

#animal-cognition, #beluga, #churchill-manitoba, #kayaks, #manitoba-canada, #summer-season, #travel-and-vacations, #whales-and-whaling