Sioux Falls Zoologists

"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!"

The mirror test is an experiment developed in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. to determine whether an animal possesses the ability to recognize itself in a mirror. It is the primary indicator of self-awareness in non-human animals and marks entrance to the mirror stage by human children in developmental psychology. Animals that pass the mirror test are: Humans older than 18 mo, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, Orangutans, Gorillas, Bottlenose Dolphins, Orcas (Killer Whales), Elephants, and European Magpies. Others showing signs of self-awareness are Pigs, some Gibbons, Rhesus Macaques, Capuchin Monkeys, some Corvids (Crows & Ravens) and Pigeons w/training. (Sorry Kitty!)

Welcome Sioux Falls Animal Lovers!

Sioux Falls Zoologists is a group made up of people with open minds who love animals as well as zoologists themselves. This website provides news articles, movies, books, and other information related to animals, and especially to animal intelligence. Located in Sioux Falls, SD, the Sioux Falls Zoologists have meetings and social gatherings where people of free thought and open minds that love animals meet, share ideas, support each other, and have fun with other animal lovers.

To become a member of this group join
Sioux Falls Free Thinkers on

Our meetings and social gatherings are posted at Sioux Falls Free Thinkers on Sioux Falls Free Thinkers Upcoming Events can be seen on the Calendar.

And one last meetup before next year, sort of a Christmas party

Spezia Restaurant, 4801 S Louise Ave, Saturday, December 17, 6:30 PM

Let's meetup and celebrate the holidays with a really good Italian dinner. Spezia has the best Italian in Sioux Falls. And I'll even buy everyone one glass of Champagne, but only one.

And here are the latest billboard designs for January/February 2017

All Hate Groups Operating In The United States

Hate Crime Billboards for 2017

Human Trafficking Billboards for 2017

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Billboards for 2017

Our next meetup will not be until January 14th.

Dale Hemming, founder of Sioux Falls Free Thinkers

The Sioux Falls Zoologists group will never have any dues. Membership is not required to attend our meetings. This group will probably never have any formal rules except treating other members and their opinions with respect and giving everyone equal time to speak. This group will never purge members for expressing their opinions or for forming their own group of animal lovers. The only loose requirement is that members, and those attending our meetings, have an interest in one of the subjects of the Sioux Falls Free Thinkers websites.

Breaking News!

12-2-16 Whales talk to each other by slapping out messages on water
Whales talk to each other by slapping out messages on water
Humpback whales break the surface and splash down to make a long-distance call, while fin-slapping is for local conversations. It’s something all whale-watchers yearn to see. The sight of whales breaking the surface and slapping their fins on the water is a true spectacle – but the animals don’t do it just for show. Instead, it appears that all that splashing is about messaging other whales, and the big splashes are for long-distance calls. Ailbhe Kavanagh at the University of Queensland in Gatton, Australia, and her colleagues studied 94 different groups of humpback whales migrating south along the Queensland coast in 2010 and 2011. Humpback whales regularly leap out of the water and twist on to their backs – an action known as breaching – and slap their tails and fins in a repetitive fashion. The resulting sounds travel underwater and could possibly communicate messages to other whales.

11-16-16 Creative cockatoos skilfully make tools from different materials
Creative cockatoos skilfully make tools from different materials
A parrot genius known to make tools has now shown that it does this with a specific purpose in mind, making useful items from twigs, wood and cardboard. It’s toolmaking with intent. Goffin’s cockatoos in the lab use their beaks to carefully cut out a tool from a sheet of cardboard before using it to retrieve an out-of-reach nut. In 2012, a male Goffin’s cockatoo named Figaro proved to be smarter than the average bird: he worked out that he could get to a nut just beyond his reach by tearing a long splinter off a chunk of wood and using it to rake the food. The behaviour – which some other cockatoos also picked up later – seemed to suggest the intentional creation of tools with a specific design for reaching food. But there were some doubters. “There were questions on whether the elongated shape of the tool was intentional,” says Alice Auersperg at the University of Vienna in Austria, who described Figaro’s behaviour in 2012. “He could just have bitten the material out of frustration and ended up with a functional tool due to the age lines of the wood.” In other words, wood naturally tears into the shape of a nut-retrieving tool, making it unclear whether the birds set out deliberately to fashion tools of the right shape for the task, or whether they just stumbled upon one that works well. Auersperg and her colleagues have now performed some follow-up investigations to make a stronger case for cockatoos having a specific intention in their toolmaking.

11-16-16 Cockatoos proven able to create tools
Cockatoos proven able to create tools
Researchers at Oxford and Vienna University have shown that Goffin’s cockatoos can make and use tools out of different materials to reach a reward. (Webmaster's comment: This video shows them doing it.)

10-21-16 Smart lab rats filmed using hooked tools to get chocolate cereal
Smart lab rats filmed using hooked tools to get chocolate cereal
Lock up your cereal. Rats can learn to use tools, such as hooked rakes, to reach food, and they can even choose the right tool for the job. Some rodents have a sweet tooth. And sometimes, you need to get crafty to reach your sugar fix. Rats have been filmed for the first time using hooked tools to get chocolate cereal – a manifestation of their critter intelligence. Akane Nagano and Kenjiro Aoyama, of Doshisha University in Kyotanabe, Japan, placed eight brown rats in a transparent box and trained them to pull small hooked tools to obtain the cereal that was otherwise beyond their reach. In one experiment they gave them two similar hooked tools, one of which worked well for the food retrieval task, and the other did not. The rats quickly learned to choose the correct tool for the job, selecting it 95 per cent of the time.

9-23-16 Dolphins have conversations
Dolphins have conversations
Dolphins have an elaborate spoken language and engage in conversations, Russian researchers have concluded. Marine biologists have recorded an exchange between Yasha and Yana, two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins that took turns producing a series of pulses, which the researchers identified as individual “words” strung together to form sentences. It’s well known that dolphins use pulses, clicks, and whistles to communicate, but the recordings reveal that they also alter the volume and pitch of the sounds they make, enabling them to convey messages and seemingly form sentences. The dolphins appeared to listen to each other without interrupting before responding—behavior reminiscent of a chat between well-mannered friends. While the researchers were unable to decipher what the dolphins were saying, their recordings suggest the marine mammals, which have larger brains than we do, communicate in a highly developed language. Researcher Vyacheslav Ryabov tells that humans should create a device that could decode dolphin language and enable us to communicate. “We must take the first step to establish relationships with the first intelligent inhabitants of the planet,” Ryabov said.

9-15-16 Tool-using crow: Rare bird joins clever animal elite
Tool-using crow: Rare bird joins clever animal elite
A bird so rare that it is now extinct in the wild has joined a clever animal elite - the Hawaiian crow naturally uses tools to reach food. The bird now joins just one other corvid - the New Caledonian crow - in this exclusive evolutionary niche. Dr Christian Rutz from St Andrews University described his realisation that the bird might be an undiscovered tool user as a "eureka moment". He and his team published their findings in the journal Nature. "I've been studying New Caledonian crows for over 10 years now," Dr Rutz told BBC News. "There are more than 40 species of crows and ravens around the world and many of them are poorly studied. "So I wondered if there were hitherto undiscovered tool users among them." Previously, Dr Rutz and his colleagues have reported that New Caledonian crows have particular physical features - very straight bills and forward-facing eyes. The researchers suggested these might be tool-using adaptations. (Webmaster's comment: And humans killed all but a few off. We killed off the species second most intelligent to us. What a great human acheivement!)

9-14-16 Hawaiian crows can use sticks as tools but are nearly extinct
Hawaiian crows can use sticks as tools but are nearly extinct
Like their cousins the New Caledonian crows, island-welling Hawaiian crows seem naturally disposed to using tools for getting food. It’s certainly something to crow about. New Caledonian crows are known for their ingenious use of tools to get at hard-to-reach food. Now it turns out that their Hawaiian cousins are adept tool-users as well. Christian Rutz at the University of St Andrews in the UK has spent 10 years studying the New Caledonian crow and wondered whether any other crow species are disposed to use tools. So he looked for crows that have similar features to the New Caledonian crow – a straight bill and large, mobile eyes that allow it to manipulate tools, much as archaeologists use opposable thumbs as an evolutionary signature for tool use in early humans. “The Hawaiian crow really stood out,” he says. “They look quite similar.”

9-14-16 Hawaiian crows ace tool-user test
Hawaiian crows ace tool-user test
Second corvid species shows knack for deftly groping with sticks to snag food. Hawaiian crows have just joined the short list of birds demonstrated to have a widespread, natural capacity for using tools, such as a stick for probing. A second kind of crow, native to Hawaii, joins the famous New Caledonian crows as proven natural tool-users. Tested in big aviaries, Hawaiian crows (Corvus hawaiiensis) frequently picked up a little stick and deftly worked it around to nudge out hard-to-reach tidbits of meat that researchers had pushed into holes in a log, scientists report September 14 in Nature.

9-1-16 What would Trump's wall mean for wildlife?
What would Trump's wall mean for wildlife?
Roadrunners have been affected even by the present border restrictions. Free movement between the US and Mexico - the hottest of topics in the 2016 US presidential campaign - is not just a human issue. What would the construction of a wall mean for animals that live near the border? One of the pledges he made during his announcement was to construct an impenetrable barrier running the length of the US border with Mexico. Very few people have been talking about what it would mean for wildlife. The US-Mexico border region is a delicate ecosystem located between two biomes, with regular animal and bird migrations moving between the north and south of the American continent. It is home to a diverse population of mammals, birds and plants, including the iconic American roadrunner and the saguaro cactus, the cinematic symbol of the American southwest. The dry, desert ecosystem also supports cougars, desert bighorn sheep, the endangered North American jaguar and the ocelot - which is down to its last 50 animals in southern Texas. Animals are susceptible to artificial borders of various shapes and sizes - not just walls but highways, train tracks and all sorts of man-made infrastructure. "Border infrastructure not only blocks the movement of wildlife, but... destroys the habitats, fragments the habitats and the connectivity that these animals use to move from one place to another," Sergio Avila-Villegas, from Arizona Sonora Desert Museum in Tuscon, told Science in Action on the BBC World Service.

8-3-16 First evidence birds nap in flight without dropping out of sky
First evidence birds nap in flight without dropping out of sky
Brain recorders fitted to 14 great frigatebirds show these birds sleep on the wing, usually while circling in rising air currents. The debate has finally been put to bed. Wearable brainwave recorders confirm that birds do indeed sleep while flying, but only for brief periods and usually with one half of their brain. We know several bird species can travel vast distances non-stop, prompting speculation that they must nap mid-flight. Great frigatebirds, for example, can fly continuously for up to two months. On the other hand, the male sandpiper, for one, can largely forgo sleep during the breeding season, hinting that it may also be possible for birds to stay awake during prolonged trips. To settle this question, Niels Rattenborg at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, and his colleagues fitted small brain activity monitors and movement trackers to 14 great frigatebirds. During long flights, the birds slept for an average of 41 minutes per day, in short episodes of about 12 seconds each. By contrast, they slept for more than 12 hours per day on land. Frigatebirds in flight tend to use one hemisphere at a time to sleep, as do ducks and dolphins, but sometimes they used both. “Some people thought that all their sleep would have to be unihemispheric otherwise they would drop from the sky,” says Rattenborg. “But that’s not the case – they can sleep with both hemispheres and they just continue soaring.” Sleep typically took place as the birds were circling in rising air currents, when they did not need to flap their wings.

7-28-16 Crows are first animals spotted using tools to carry objects
Crows are first animals spotted using tools to carry objects
Brainy New Caledonian crows have figured out how to carry objects too large to move with their beaks by using a stick. New Caledonian crows have figured out how to move two things in one fell swoop. The adept tool users have been filmed inserting sticks into objects to transport both items at once – a feat that has never been seen in non-humans. Ivo Jacobs of Lund University in Sweden and his team recorded the unique behaviour in a group of captive crows (Corvus moneduloides). They saw how one crafty individual slipped a wooden stick into a metal nut and flew off, carrying away both the tool and the object. A few days later, another crow inserted a thin stick into a hole in a large wooden ball to move the items out of the room. The team observed four other instances of the crows’ clever trick. One of these involved using a stick to transport an object that was too large to be handled by beak. The birds’ novel mode of tool use may be a reflection of their intelligence and exceptionally large brains. Although we already knew crows could use tools, adapting this behaviour to other contexts involving novel objects and purposes shows behavioural flexibility, says Jacobs. “This is typically seen as a hallmark of complex cognitive abilities.” (Webmaster's comment: Like I have said. Next to humans crows are the smartest animals on the planet.)

4-15-16 Dolphins have a language that helps them solve problems together
Dolphins have a language that helps them solve problems together
When faced with a puzzle that two can solve better than one, bottlenose dolphins chatter away, suggesting that they have a specific vocalisation for working together. Bottlenose dolphins have been observed chattering while cooperating to solve a tricky puzzle – a feat that suggests they have a type of vocalisation dedicated to cooperating on problem solving. Holli Eskelinen of Dolphins Plus research institute in Florida and her colleagues at the University of Southern Mississippi presented a group of six captive dolphins with a locked canister filled with food. The canister could only be opened by simultaneously pulling on a rope at either end. The team conducted 24 canister trials, during which all six dolphins were present. Only two of the dolphins ever managed to crack the puzzle and get to the food.

3-30-16 Human versus pig: Can we outwit the hog hordes?
Human versus pig: Can we outwit the hog hordes?
Feral pigs have ruined crops, dug up cemeteries and even crashed a fighter jet. The challenge: eliminate a foe that's smarter than a chimp and can run at 50 km/h. Across the world, and especially in the southern US, feral pigs are a problem. Marauding hordes of swine are destroying crops and sensitive natural environments, causing traffic accidents and spreading disease and parasites. They have even dug up cemeteries. The US Department of Agriculture estimates the damage at $1.5 billion a year. Traps of the sort Woodson lays are generally thought to be the least bad option in dealing with the pigs. But porcine intelligence makes trapping a full time job. Pigs have been shown to beat chimps when it comes to IQ, are whizzes at navigating complex mazes and can manipulate cursors on a screen by controlling a joystick with their snout. It means in simple traps they soon work out how to jump over short fences and climb taller ones, for example by gaining purchase at a corner.

3-21-16 Manta rays are first fish to recognise themselves in a mirror
Manta rays are first fish to recognise themselves in a mirror
Mirror test suggests big-brained manta rays have what it takes to be self-aware, but not everyone is convinced by results or even the test itself. Giant manta rays have been filmed checking out their reflections in a way that suggests they are self-aware. Only a small number of animals, mostly primates, have passed the mirror test, widely used as a tentative test of self-awareness. “This new discovery is incredibly important,” says Marc Bekoff, of the University of Colorado in Boulder. “It shows that we really need to expand the range of animals we study.” But not everyone is convinced that the new study proves conclusively that manta rays, which have the largest brains of any fish, can do this – or indeed, that the mirror test itself is an appropriate measure of self-awareness.

1-8-16 Falcons imprison live birds to keep them fresh for a later meal
Falcons imprison live birds to keep them fresh for a later meal
Eleonora's falcons in Morocco seem to pluck and imprison small birds in rocky crevasses so they can eat them later. In a census of the island’s falcons in 2014, Abdeljebbar Qninba of Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, and his colleagues came across small birds trapped in deep cavities, their flight and tail feathers removed. The birds were unable to move their wings or use their dangling legs, the team reported. Crippling and imprisoning prey might be a means of keeping fresh food nearby, so parents can stay on the nest and still have snacks nearby to feed hungry offspring. (Webmaster's comment: Amazing! The falcons are keeping livestock, just as humans do. We also clip the wings of geese and ducks so they can't fly away so we can eat them later. And we often imprison them in pens for the same reason.)

Animal Facts: Humans have 5 million olfactory receptors, dogs have 220 million, 44 times more than humans. Dogs literally "see" the world through their nose.
Dolphins communicate, and see the world using echolocation, with frequencies up to 150,000 hertz. We are limited to 22,000 hertz. We can not hear them talk, we can not image what they "see". They can "see" (echolocate) a tennis ball a football field away in murky water. A task hard for many of us even in clean air.

Our "slogan" above comes from the following quote:
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!

We look forward to seeing you at one or more of our events and meetings!

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Welcome Sioux Falls Animal Lovers!