Archive for the ‘Ethology’ Category

A Silly Trend Among Dolphins


(Atlantic Science) – Ed Yong:

In 1995, a bottlenose dolphin named Billie leaped from the water of Port River, Australia, and began “tail-walking” in circles around Mike Bossley’s boat.

Up until that point, a wild bottlenose dolphin had never been seen tail-walking, and for good reason: It’s a trick that’s taught to dolphins in captivity. Bossley soon realized that Billie not only had learned the trick during a brief stint in dolphin rehab, but then had passed it on to her wild peers. …

theatlantic 2018/09 tail-walking

Billie tail-walks


Intelligent birds


(Guardian::Science) – Brigid Harrison-Draper:

Certain species of bird have surprised researchers recently with their ability to fashion tools and solve complex problems. …

theguardian 2018/jul/15 intelligent-birds

Tool-using rook

Aliens in the Mist


(Discover Blogs::Out There) – Corey S. Powell:

What would happen if we found an intelligent alien civilization that was less advanced than our own? I posed this as a hypothetical question in a recent blog post. But really, it doesn’t need to be posed as a hypothetical. The answer is playing out right now in the forests of Africa, and it doesn’t reflect very well on us. …

outthere 2017/12/07 gorilla_aliens

Dian Fossey and mountain gorillas

Humpback Whales Remix Their Old Songs


(Atlantic Science) – Ed Yong:

They combine tunes at musically similar places, like the world’s biggest DJs. …

theatlantic 2017/07 534636

Humpback whale

How Whales Sleep


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

A photographer went up close to a pod of giant sperm whales and captured incredible photos of the animals asleep in a vertical pose, a rare sight. …

singham 2017/07/18 whales-sleep

Sleeping sperm whales

Dolphin Intelligence


(National Geographic) – Joshua Foer:

Dolphins are extraordinarily garrulous. Not only do they whistle and click, but they also emit loud broadband packets of sound called burst pulses to discipline their young and chase away sharks. Scientists listening to all these sounds have long wondered what, if anything, they might mean. Surely such a large-brained, highly social creature wouldn’t waste all that energy babbling beneath the waves unless the vocalizations contained some sort of meaningful content. And yet despite a half century of study, nobody can say what the fundamental units of dolphin vocalization are or how those units get assembled. …


Spinner dolphins

Jamming Bat Sonar


(Phenomena::Not Exactly Rocket Science) – Ed Yong:

Bats live in a world of acoustic warfare. Their sonar, or echolocation, allows them to hunt in total darkness, but it also makes them vulnerable. …


Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)

Not So Intelligent Crows


(Phenomena::Not Exactly Rocket Science) – Ed Yong:

Two abilities – understanding causality, and using that understanding – seem so simple and mundane to us that it feels weird to lay them out, and weirder still to separate them. But they are separate. That much becomes clear when you study an animal that can do one of these things and not the other.

The New Caledonian crow is one such animal. …


New Caledonian Crow

Cognitive Dissonance


(The Economist::Babbage) – P.H.:

Like Winnie-the-Pooh, bees are creatures of very little brain – just half a millimetre across and with a million or so neurons; a rat’s is a cubic centimetre and has 200m. Bee brains also lack structures, such as the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, that play a vital role in forming the “cognitive maps” that help humans and other mammals find their way from A to B – even if point B isn’t initially visible. Yet bees routinely buzz off up to three kilometres (almost two miles) from their hives in their quest to make Pooh’s beloved ‘hunny’ – and then make a beeline back. How? …


Bee with radar sensor

Dracula’s Children


(Phenomena::The Loom) – Carl Zimmer:

Millions of years ago, some bats gave up their old habits of hunting for insects and tried something new: drinking blood. These creatures evolved into today’s vampire bats, and it’s mind-boggling to explore all the ways that they evolved to make the most of their sanguine meal. …


Vampire bat