animal behavior

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Dogs May Like Praise as Much as Their Treats

A small study finds that a pat on the head can go a long way

(Newser) - Scientists who've trained the first group of dogs to sit still in MRI machines so that their brain activity can be measured say they've made a striking discovery: Dogs may like to get attention as much as if not more than they like to get treats. Reporting in... More »

Chimps Are Inexplicably Hurling Rocks at Trees

There are theories, of course—including that it might be part of a 'sacred' ritual

(Newser) - Chimpanzees in West Africa are throwing rocks at trees, and why they're doing it remains a mystery, Discovery reports. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology say this chimp behavior has never before been documented and that it may shed some light on the species' cultural customs—... More »

Octopus Love Involves Strangulation, Cannibalism

Scientists observe one killing, eating her partner

(Newser) - Some guys fall asleep after a little love-making. But if you’re a male octopus, that nap can be more like eternal rest. Two scientists have detailed how carnal relations between a lady octopus and her lover can prove fatal for the male, especially if he’s not that well-endowed,... More »

World's Fastest Animal Is Very, Very Small

When speed is measured in body lengths per second, that is

(Newser) - Watch your back, Usain Bolt: A California physics major has found that a tiny mite is (sort of) the fastest land animal on Earth, keeping a pace equivalent to that of a human running 1,300 miles per hour, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Why "sort of"? As... More »

Experts: Dogs Feel No Shame

'Guilty dog look' is reaction to anger

(Newser) - Every dog owner knows the "guilty dog" look that has made sites like Dogshaming.com a hit, but animal behavior experts say the pooches don't really feel ashamed at all, the AP finds. Researchers have found that the droopy-eyed, cowering look dogs give angry owners is a reaction... More »

Your Dog Can Catch Yawns— From You

Study: Man's best friend is more likely to yawn after an owner than a stranger

(Newser) - If you're showing signs of sleepiness, your pooch might do the same. It's already been suggested that yawning is contagious between dogs and humans, but researchers in Japan have taken things further: They've found that your dog is more likely to "catch" your yawn than a... More »

Another Midlife-Crisis Victim: Apes

Slump in happiness mirrors that in humans

(Newser) - While you won't find them buying sports cars or having affairs with their biographers, apes are just as susceptible to midlife crises as their human counterparts, a new study claims. Researchers questioned the keepers of hundreds of captive orangutans and chimpanzees and found that just like with humans, the... More »

Political Parties Act Like Schools of Fish

Vocal minorities can temporarily sway the masses

(Newser) - Wondering about the future of the Tea Party, or what affect the Occupy Movement might have on Democrats? Try asking a bunch of fish. Scientists have found that in a school of fish, a "vocal minority"—that is, a group determined to swim in a certain direction—can... More »

DC Zoo Animals Sensed Quake

Apes starting climbing seconds before ground started shaking

(Newser) - In a mysterious phenomenon that has been observed since ancient times, animals at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, appear to have sensed Tuesday's earthquake before humans did. Seconds before the ground began to shake, gorillas and orangutans dropped their food, grabbed their young, and climbed as high as... More »

How Dolphins Can Help Us Meet Aliens

Before we talk to ET, let's chat with our fellow Earthlings

(Newser) - Scientists have been discovering plenty of new planets, and eventually, perhaps one will contain life—but we’d have no way to talk to the aliens. Until then, we can practice on creatures here on Earth: dolphins, who are capable of some surprisingly sophisticated thinking. We’ve tried to chat... More »

Pigeons Love to Gamble: Study

Research suggests gambling is natural urge, even at lousy odds

(Newser) - Gambling may be a fundamental part of human—and avian—nature, according to researchers who were surprised to learn that pigeons like gambling as much as people do. In the "pigeon casino" the researchers set up, trained birds given a choice of pecking a button that delivered three pellets... More »

What Your Dog's Thinking

Guess what: When he slobbers all over your face, that's not love

(Newser) - When your dog licks your face, he's not trying to “kiss” you or demonstrate his affection; he's hoping to lap up any regurgitated food you might have to offer him. That's just one of the many unsettling revelations doled out by Alexandra Horowitz in an interview with ABC News... More »

Dogs, Whales Display Special Connection

Video, anecdotes support notion of interspecies bond

(Newser) - Do dogs and whales share a mysterious special bond? Yes, according to Discovery News writer Jennifer Viegas. For proof, she offers the YouTube clip above and some anecdotal evidence from Carrie Newell, who runs Whale Research EcoExcursions. Newell often brings her dog on her whale watching expeditions, and she reports... More »

Temple Grandin a 'Captivating' Look at Autism

Claire Danes shines in title role as animal behavior expert

(Newser) - Temple Grandin, the renowned animal behaviorist who credits her achievements to her autism, values "tangible results" over emotion—and so does her HBO biopic. The eponymous film, debuting tomorrow, "avoids the mawkish clichés" so typical of made-for-TV movies, instead delivering "a movie that is funny, instructive,... More »

Crocs Know Their Names, Open Up on Call

Brit aquarium has reptiles answering to Paleo, Suchus

(Newser) - Two crocodiles at a British aquarium have been taught to recognize their own names, a feat that works with mammals in captivity but rarely with reptiles. “They are very intelligent and started responding to their names in just a few days,” the zoo’s manager tells the Telegraph... More »

Pair of British Swans Gets Rare 'Divorce'

The birds usually mate for life, but not this time

(Newser) - A pair of British swans has done the unthinkable for the loyal species, which usually mate for life: It split up. Sarindi and Saruni had been together for two years, but both returned to an English bird sanctuary from their annual Arctic migration with brand new partners. It's only the... More »

Study of Obsessive Dogs Turns up OCD Gene

Study sheds light on OCD cause in both humans and dogs

(Newser) - Dogs that engage in compulsive behavior like tail-chasing and blanket sucking share a genetic variation, according to new research. The researchers believe the study of Doberman pinschers—a breed especially vulnerable to canine OCD—sheds new light on the causes of the disorder in both humans and animals, the New ... More »

Hooker Crabs Swap Sex for Safety

Male crabs rewarded with sex for defending neighbors

(Newser) - Selling sex is the key to survival in the seedy world of fiddler crabs, according to Australian researchers. Scientists studying the burrow-dwelling, highly territorial creatures found that male fiddler crabs fought off intruders to protect female neighbors—who lack the male's huge claw—far more often than they would aid... More »

Some Male, Mom Baboons 'Just Friends'

Primatologists baffled by sexless simian friendships

(Newser) - Scientists are trying to figure out why many male baboons enter into platonic friendships with single moms, the BBC reports. Researchers probing relationships within baboon tribes found that the friendships, which did not appear to involve sex in about half the instances, helped mother and offspring dodge the unwanted attentions... More »

They Don't Call Him Fido for Nothing

Dogs are ethical, full of natural goodness, scientist says

(Newser) - Science is finally catching up to what dog owners have known all along: Canines are ethical. After thousands of hours studying dogs—once dismissed as "furry automatons," an author said—animal behaviorist Marc Bekoff concluded that they possess the capacity for empathy and compassion, the hallmarks of morality.... More »

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