This week I had the privilege of writing a couple of articles for the guest blog of Scientific American, on whether animals remember past events in their lives, and how we go about testing it.
This is the first part of a two-post series. The Part 2 is at The Thoughtful Animal blog on our network. "Let’s see if you bastards can do ninety." And with that, the DeLorean accelerated forwards and traveled back in time thirty years.Unfortunately, in life outside Back to the Future , we do not yet have the option of time travel.
Zebra finches are birds which, once they've found that special someone, will tend to stick with them. They are what is called `socially monogamous', meaning they form pairs to mate and raise offspring over multiple breeding seasons, but with the occasional sneaky mating with the next door neighbour.
When we know someone is watching us, we behave differently. This `audience effect' is something I have written about previously. However, a new study has found a type of audience effect never before found outside humans.
When it comes to mating, males rarely cooperate. In most species males compete for females, through roaring, head-banging, or even eye-length comparison.
I used to work in Edinburgh's Butterfly and Insect World. While I was there, my favourite animal was not the chameleon, which changed colour when it was angry.
This is a jumping spider, and it is unusual in more ways than just its looks.
We all act a bit differently when we know someone's watching. When your boss walks into a room, perhaps you're more likely to do a good job, (or if you're anything like me, more likely to screw up).
Have you ever wondered what makes you right- or left-handed? Well, in humans and other mammals, the brain is divided down the middle, or `lateralized'.
People are irrational. Example: You wouldn't buy a new dress, or suit, that costs $100 (`that's far too much to spend!') but you would buy one that was $300, but is now `reduced' to $150 (`but just look at how far down it's come!') Sound familiar?
As humans, we generally think that we should be somewhat choosy when picking a mate. However, we are lucky in that making the wrong choice rarely results in being eaten by said partner.
Whether animals feel emotion, and are capable of suffering, is a question the answer to which has far-reaching implications. I recently read Victoria Braithwaite's `Do Fish Feel Pain?', a question that I didn't worry about much until reading this book, but now bothers me a lot more.
The article I discuss below came out last year, but it really is a rather cool experiment, so I felt I had to share it. Bowerbirds, perhaps best known from Sir David Attenborough's documentaries, are unique in their elaborate constructions of bowers.