Posts tagged behaviour.
Some call me … Tim.
OMG OKAY THIS IS GOLD. The pallas cat at my local zoo apparently does this, and there’s a little sort of kid-level viewing window into its habitat, and the keeper in that area told me that the pallas cat likes to hide beneath the window. So when the kids press their faces up to the glass, searching the exhibit for the animal, the pallas cat suddenly pops up directly in front of their faces and scares the ever-loving shit out of them. Pallas cat: recreationally scares children. Tell your friends.
I AM FREAKING CRYIN’
IT GOT BETTER
Your choice affects your dog’s choice — a lesson I’m reminded of everyday. (Image credit goes to Lili Chin.)
Way back this winter, when Chalo started having growly reactions toward other dogs, I made the mistake of correcting him for it. Traditional wisdom and all the training books I’d read as a kid in the ’90s told me firm discipline was necessary, so I spoke sternly and used physical corrections with a choke collar. Surprise: in just 48 hours, it became so much worse. A little growliness turned into full-on explosions of snarling and lunging and raised hackles and high emotions. The changes were happening so quickly it frightened me. This was not a dog I recognized. So I backtracked, devoured every bit of reactivity literature I could find on the internet, and soon wondered if, in Chalo’s mind, the situation looked very different. To him, it seemed to be, “Every time we see a dog, my person gets worried and bad things happen. She becomes a person I do not recognize. I need to growl more to make that dog go away, and to keep bad things from happening.” My whole perspective on the issue changed — or at least, made me more receptive to alternatives, out of desperation and concern that I was singlehandedly ruining my dog.
The next day I approached it differently, with a soft, open, patient mindset and a bag full of cheese. And in one session, Chalo was sitting quietly and sweetly, twenty feet away from the golden retriever who previously sent him into a growling frenzy.
In one week, he was walking past yards of snarling, lunging, barking, frustrated dogs with the same sweet, quiet, expectant look on his face.
Today, Chalo hasn’t growled at another dog in months.
I definitely don’t propose that there is any one-size-fits-all training method for every dog, and everything I don’t know about dogs could fill several rooms several times over. But Chalo teaches me so much, all the time: how to be a better teacher, how to approach problems creatively, how to be patient, how to motivate. So many canine behavior problems are misunderstandings, rooted partly in a failure of human imagination and empathy. And that is fixable. That can change. Chalo continues to show me what I need to give more of, not just in dog training but in life in general — reflection on my own actions, and consideration for how we all can be shaped, battered, or buoyed by the world around us. Dogs can make us better, and this dog is making me better.
The Hot-Hands bias comes from basketball, where a player who has scored several successive shots in a row is believed to have “hot hands” or is on a streak. Members of their team will pass to them more, and members of the opposing team will increase attacks on that player. When you look at the wider picture, it becomes apparent that their hands were not hot at all, just their perception of success.
Like a fresh banana of psychological weirdness, here’s another cognitive fallacy for you to chew on! Follow Maki’s comic with Carl Zimmer’s wonderful New York Times article on how we aren’t the only monkeys to fall victim to the peculiarities of pattern recognition.
Zimmer, discussing recent research by psychologist Andreas Wilke, notes that our tendency to see streaks of good fortune, whether it’s 3-pointers or poker hands, might hold its origin in foraging for food:
Our ancestors were constantly searching for food, either gathering plants or hunting animals. As they searched, they had to continually decide where to look next. The wrong choice could mean starvation.
Dr. Wilke argues that this threat led our ancestors to evolve some rules of thumb based on the fact that animals and plants aren’t scattered randomly across a landscape. Instead, they can be found in clumps.
That meant that if our ancestors picked up a fruit from the ground, they were likely to find more by looking nearby, rather than going somewhere else. As a result, they became very sensitive to these streaks. They were an indication that good fortune would keep coming.
Whether you’re looking for food or a flush, the first step towards a life where you are not being tricked by your brain on a regular basis is to learn exactly how your brain is tricking you on a regular basis.
Related: Have you seen this week’s episode of It’s Okay To Be Smart? It’s all about cognitive biases, logical fallacies, and blowing on Nintendo games. Watch below:
Robert Sapolsky about his study of the Keekorok baboon troop from National Geographic’s Stress: Portrait of a Killer.
Thiiiiiiis, people, thiiiis!
1. Kill alpha male types
2. Achieve world peace
I’ve actually read a lot of Sapolsky’s work. He’s one of my favorite scientists in the neuro/socio world.
I just watched the documentary and there is so much more about the troop that isn’t in this photoset—not only does the troop have a culture of little aggression and greater cooperation, but any incoming jerk baboons learned within a few months that their shitty behaviour was in no way acceptable, that the troop only rewarded sociability, and they changed accordingly.
If effin’ baboons can learn this there’s pretty much no reason to believe that our only option in dealing with assholes is to just ignore their behaviour and let it continue.
there really is no excuse.
"incoming jerk baboons" hahaha
The wild colony from our old oak swarmed one February afternoon (the result of a successful mating cycle) and I came down to the garden to find a football shaped -vibrating- object hanging from the little trunk of one of my Persian Mulberry bushes. Bees! A call to our friendly neighborhood beekeeper, the fabulous Kirk at Backwards Beekeepers, and he was there within the hour. It could not have been a gentler, less intrusive process for the bees. They just walked into their new home.
I learned about this. So amazing.
What a fantastic opportunity!
When a predator threatens their nest, adult Killdeer birds (Charadrius vociferus) put on a distraction display. The bird holds its wings as if injured and makes distress calls, in attempt to attract the attention of the predator. Thinking that the bird is an easy target, the predator follows the bird away from the nest.
If the parent sees that a potential predator is not following them, they will move closer and get louder until they get the attention of the predator. When the they are sufficiently far from the nest, the bird just flies away.
Ken Slade on Flickr
Wheel-running is probably not a welfare concern!
Hey guys, check this out!
There is a lot of concern about exercise wheels in the cages of captive small animals (like mice and rats), because people tend to view the behaviour of wheel running as unnatural. It’s thought to be a stereotypy (a repetitive movement or action with no discernible benefit).
But this new study suggests that actually, wheel-running has absolutely no connection to captive behaviours at all! Why not?
Well, researchers placed a wheel in the wild, and found that wild animals spent just as much time on it that captive animals did. Originally, researchers added food to the protective cage where the wheel was found to encourage animal visits. Then they removed the food, and although the number of visits decreased, the number of visits that included a bout of wheel running actually increased by 42 percent, which suggests that the reason for the visit was actually to run on the wheel.
That’s right - in the absence of a food reward, wild animals do in fact run on these wheels!
And that means that wheel-running cannot be considered a stereotypic behaviour, because it’s not dependent on a food reward, and it was comparable in bouts between wild and captive animals.
It’s possible that it’s simply a play behaviour. That is awesome, and reassuring for small animal owners (and researchers who rely on behaviourally sound animals).
One of the Biggest Arctic Migrations You’ve Never Heard Of
by Carmen Yeung
The Bering Strait—located between Alaska’s Seward Peninsula and Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula—is the only marine gateway connecting the Arctic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. At its narrowest point, the strait is just 55 miles wide. Big Diomede Island (Russia) and Little Diomede Island (U.S.) are located near the middle of the Bering Strait, and are separated by a strip of water less than three miles wide.
Despite its cold, remote location, the Bering Strait is a key biological hotspot, a region that contains a significant number of species – some of which are found nowhere else on Earth. This strait is both a bottleneck and a pathway for marine life.
Each spring, millions of seabirds and hundreds of thousands of marine mammals traverse the narrow strait as they migrate to the Arctic Ocean. Sea ice—frozen seawater that floats on the ocean surface—plays a major role in this seasonal migration.
In the spring, migratory birds and marine mammals gather in the Bering Sea and follow the retreating ice edge north through the Bering Strait and into the Chukchi Sea and the Arctic Ocean. The ice edge is highly productive, and the sea ice itself provides important habitat for microorganisms, birds and marine mammals. The Bering and Chukchi Seas are one of the most productive ocean ecosystems in the world…
(read more: Ocean Conservancy)
photos: Ribbon Seal - NOAA Fisheries; Satelite Images - NASA; and Northern Bowhead Whales - NOAA Marine Mammal Laboratory
We’re lucky octopuses don’t have bones, because if they did they’d come on land and take over.
they could for sure take over even without bones i think
good thing they can only be out of the water for an hour.
actually that might be enough time for them to take over…
I hope this blog serves as enough evidence that I love them and they will then decide to let me live in servitude instead of killing me outright.
The best bit? Porter was a rescue dog, as were the other dogs taught to drive. Dogs looking for homes!
ingo arndt (previously featured) has travelled the world photographing the architecture of animals, who he points outs were building nests, dams, and huts while we humans were still living in caves. he also points out that these animal constructions — which are typically used over many generations, and are all biodegradable — can teach us something about sustainable living. these photos, part of a collection of over two hundred, show:
1. a spinifex termite tower made of small earth and saliva balls, found in australia’s northern territory. at over twenty feet tall, it is capable of housing two to three million termites, and features a ventilation system that ensures a consistent internal temperature.
some termites, charged with defending a tower, are unable to feed themselves given the size of their jaws, and rely on other termites to feed them. but this kindness may be repaid, as these soldier termites will give their lives in defence of the colony.
2. a communal silk nest, known as a tent, made by a group of buff tip caterpillars, who often gather in lime, birch, hazel and willow trees.
3. the nest of the european red wood ant, here in hessen, germany. though these ants are just one centimeter long, their homes are over six feet high and are built so tightly that water is unable to seep in.
4,5. a weaver ant nest in australia’s northern territory, which the ants build by weaving together leaves bound with the silk produced by their larvae. should any other animal venture within smelling distance of the nest, weaver ant soldiers will charge out, spraying bullets of formic acid. like the termites, they will sacrifice their lives in defence of the group.
6. a maypole in western new guinea built by a male vogelkop gardener bowerbird with the sole intention of attracting a mate.
7. (left) the shell of a marine snail of the genus xenophora, which has been covered in rocks, other shells and debris from the area. a young snail will adds these to its growing shell to both provide camouflage and anchor its shell from sinking into the seafloor. (right) a paper pulp nest made from chewed, weathered wood by the common wasp (vespula vulgaris)
8. the nest of a baya weaver in namibia, built from blades of fresh grass which then harden in the sun. note that the nest can only be accessed from below.