39 Animal Intelligence News Articles
from 1st Half of 2015
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6-18-15 Team of hyenas works together to steal fresh carcass from lions
Team of hyenas works together to steal fresh carcass from lions
Most animals wouldn't confront a fearsome predator like a lion. But through sophisticated group work, hyenas launch successful raids. The mobbing involves a surprising degree of cooperation and communication. Male lions, which actively pursue and kill hyenas, are much more of a danger than females, who usually just make threats. This could be why the hyenas generally confront females. The team suggests the hyenas can identify their opponent's age and sex before deciding as a group whether or not to mob it.
6-11-15 Zoologger: Decorator crabs accessorise to avoid being eaten
Zoologger: Decorator crabs accessorise to avoid being eaten
Some crabs' fashion sense is all about not being noticed, while others dress to deter predatory passers-by. "The nice thing about being a decorator is that wherever you go, you can pull off the old decoration and stick on something new and quickly adapt yourself to whatever environment surrounds you." Other decorator crabs are picky: any old outfit won't do. They go for materials that are chemically noxious or otherwise repugnant to predators.
6-10-15 Polar bear caught eating dolphins and freezing the leftovers
Polar bear caught eating dolphins and freezing the leftovers
An ill-fated pod of white-beaked dolphins fell prey to Svalbard polar bears, perhaps after they were drawn further north than usual by warm waters. The bear had already eaten most of the first dolphin but couldn't finish all of its catch in one sitting. So it made use of the natural freezer, storing a second dolphin – still largely intact – under the snow for a later snack, presumably.
6-10-15 Trail-blazing ants show hints of metacognition when seeking food
Trail-blazing ants show hints of metacognition when seeking food
When faced with a changing environment ants are less likely to leave scent trails for their colony, perhaps doubting their own knowledge. Do they know they don't know? Ants seem to examine their knowledge, a little like humans do when unsure of which route to take. Ants that head in the wrong direction were less likely to leave a trail for the other ants to follow.
6-10-15 Cheers! Chimps' favourite tipple is sweet palm wine
Cheers! Chimps' favourite tipple is sweet palm wine
Chimps in Guinea seem to get tipsy on the booze they find at the bottom of raffia palms, in the first study of the drinking habits of wild chimpanzees. In the first study of its kind, chimps in West Africa were spotted sampling sweet palm wine on a rare but habitual basis.
6-10-15 Chimpanzees found to drink alcoholic plant sap in wild
Chimpanzees found to drink alcoholic plant sap in wild
They have shown an understanding of language and a sense of fairness, and now humans' closest primate cousins have even been found to share a taste for alcohol. Scientists studying chimpanzees in Guinea have seen evidence of long-term and recurrent ingestion of ethanol by apes. The 17-year study recorded chimps using leaves to drink fermented palm sap. Some drank enough alcohol to produce "visible signs of inebriation".
6-5-15 Monkeys' cosy alliance with wolves looks like domestication
Monkeys' cosy alliance with wolves looks like domestication
Troops of gelada monkeys in Ethiopia are unfazed by wolves wandering through to hunt rodents, but is one domesticating the other just as humans did with dogs? In the alpine grasslands of eastern Africa, Ethiopian wolves and gelada monkey are giving peace a chance. The geladas – a type of a baboon – tolerate wolves wandering right through the middle of their troops, while the wolves ignore potential meals of baby geladas in favour of rodents, which they can catch more easily when the monkeys are present. The unusual pact echoes the way dogs began to be domesticated by humans.
6-3-15 Wave motion shows how bird flocks have to be just the right size
Wave motion shows how bird flocks have to be just the right size
Flocks of birds can get only so big before falling apart. A new study shows that flocks of different sizes behave differently, and could help explain how animals like birds and fish coordinate their movements.
6-2-15 Listening to the language of apes
Listening to the language of apes
The similarities between apes and people have long fascinated scientists. Yet, writes Mary Colwell, the differences can be just as thrilling. "The sounds uttered by these apes have all the characteristics of true speech," wrote Garner. "The speaker is conscious of the meaning of the sound used, and uses it with the definite purpose of conveying an idea to the one addressed; the sound is always addressed to some definite one, and the speaker usually looks at the one addressed; he regulates the pitch and volume of the voice to suit the condition under which it is used; he knows the value of sound as a medium of thought. These and many other facts show that they are truly speech."
5-19-15 Whales can be told apart by their voices - study
Whales can be told apart by their voices - study
US researchers say that they can distinguish individual whales based on the sound of the animals' voices. (Webmaster's comment: If we can tell individual whales apart by their individual sound, then for sure so can the whales. They know who they are!)
5-18-15 In U.S., more say animals should have same rights as people
In U.S., more say animals should have same rights as people
Almost a third of Americans, 32%, believe animals should be given the same rights as people, while 62% say they deserve some protection but can still be used for the benefit of humans. The strong animal rights view is up from 2008 when 25% thought animals' rights should be on par with humans'. (Webmaster's comment: We need to keep in mind that an animal has little concept of human rights. A lion that eats you is just being a lion, and a chimpanzee that tears your face off to dominate you is just being a chimpanzee.)
5-15-15 Zoologger: The clumsy tree-dweller transforms into a gliding ace
Zoologger: The clumsy tree-dweller transforms into a gliding ace
Enormous skin flaps turn flying lemurs, or colugo, into aerial masters capable of manoeuvring through the forest with pinpoint accuracy. Flaps of skin hang around its ankles and get in the way as it clambers awkwardly around the forest. Once the colugo leaps into the air, though, everything changes. Its baggy folds transform into enormous wings as the animal sails gracefully through the canopy.
5-14-15 Bad memories drive lab rats to rescue drenched companions faster
Bad memories drive lab rats to rescue drenched companions faster
Empathy motivates rats to free each other from an upsetting wet cage, and they do it more quickly if they have experienced the unpleasant situation themselves. An experiment testing whether empathy can drive behaviour in rats has found that, when a dry rat observes a distressed rat trapped in a wet chamber, it will free it from its cage. Not only are these rats willing to help others, they do so faster if they themselves have previously suffered a soaking.
5-6-15 Human bat uses echoes and sounds to see the world
Human bat uses echoes and sounds to see the world
Brian Borowski, a 59-year-old Canadian who was born blind, began teaching himself to echolocate aged 3. He clicks with his tongue or snaps his fingers as he moves about, unconsciously decoding the echoes. Although many blind people get information from sounds around them, few turn this into a supersense by making sounds to help themselves get around. "When I'm walking down a sidewalk and I pass trees, I can hear the tree: the vertical trunk of the tree and maybe the branches above me," says Borowski. "I can hear a person in front of me and go around them."
5-6-15 Capuchin monkeys rival chimps as highly skilled nut-crackers
Capuchin monkeys rival chimps as highly skilled nut-crackers
Monkeys observed in Brazil can use tools, but they also know it doesn't take a sledgehammer to crack a nut – instead they exercise judgement and restraint. CAPUCHIN monkeys from Brazil are famous for using hammers and anvils to crack open tasty nuts. Now it seems they do so with even more skill and judgement then we gave them credit for, rivalling skills of their brainy chimp relatives. (Webmaster's comment: They are THINKING about the best way to get the food. Exactly what you would expect of any intelligent animal, which is almost all, if not all, of them.)
4-30-15 Capuchin monkeys rival chimps as highly skilled nut-crackers
Capuchin monkeys rival chimps as highly skilled nut-crackers
Monkeys are more skilful in using tools to crack open their favourite nuts than we thought. In addition to breaking nuts open with stones and copying more experienced individuals, they exercise a great deal of judgement to optimise each nut-cracking operation. Bearded capuchin monkeys from Brazil use tools made of quartz, limestone, sandstone and wood as anvils and hammers to crack open various nuts, and young monkeys observe how the older, more proficient and dominant individuals do it before they pick up the skill.
4-30-15 Cat chat: Can felines talk to humans?
Cat chat: Can felines talk to humans?
An American vet has claimed to have decoded the language that cats use, believing that cats use more than a dozen sounds, each having its own meaning. The research also highlighted that cats have a specific language they use with people, and not with other cats.
4-17-15 Wild chimps look both ways before crossing roads
Wild chimps look both ways before crossing roads
A busy highway in Uganda is a potential death trap, but chimps have learned to look before running across, and they even wait for those less able to cross. It turns out that like us wild chimpanzees learn to respect roads, adopting the same cautious drills as humans, including looking both ways to check for traffic.
4-4-15 Postmenopausal Orcas guide hunts
Postmenopausal Orcas guide hunts
By finding fish, older females improve survival of kin. Same as with elephants, the older females are the leaders. They are the custodians of Orca knowledge
4-4-15 Piggyback and other crocodile fun
Piggyback and other crocodile fun
Crocodiles play just like mammals do. They can even play with humans and the humans are never hurt. Primitive as it may be there's a mind at work in there.
3-31-15 Breakthrough for understanding whale communication
Breakthrough for understanding whale communication
We all know that whales navigate and communicate through sound. But scientists are still trying to find out how and why some whales have developed different systems of hearing. Researchers at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington think they've found a clue - it all depends on jaw movements and the methods whales use to catch food.
3-30-15 Porpoises, whales and dolphins use 'sound searchlights'
Porpoises, whales and dolphins use 'sound searchlights'
Researchers in Denmark have revealed how porpoises finely adjust the beams of sound they use to hunt. The animals hunt with clicks and buzzes - detecting the echoes from their prey. This study showed them switching from a narrow to a wide beam of sound - "like adjusting a flashlight" - as they homed in on a fish.
3-19-15 Orangutans cup their mouths to alter their voices
Orangutans cup their mouths to alter their voices
Orangutans use their hands to alter their voices and make themselves sound bigger, say scientists. Researchers have now studied the acoustics of these "hand-modified kiss squeaks" and shown that the animals sound bigger and "more impressive" when they use their hands in the call.
3-17-15 Feathered apes who say thanks with shiny trinkets
Feathered apes who say thanks with shiny trinkets
Recent reports of crows bestowing oddly touching gifts on people who feed them suggest that there is something rather special about these big-brained, beady-eyed birds. It seems the term "bird brain" may not be synonymous with stupidity after all.
3-9-15 Birds that bring gifts and do the gardening
Birds that bring gifts and do the gardening
A recent Magazine story reported how an eight-year-old girl in the US regularly receives gifts from crows - they seem to be thanking her for feeding them. It inspired readers to email us with details of their own remarkable relationships with birds. (Webmaster's comment: We have obviously been in trading relationships with crows for a long time. Clearly the most intelligent species on the planet after humans.)
3-7-15 Frankie the dog 'sniffs out thyroid cancer'
Frankie the dog 'sniffs out thyroid cancer'
A dog has been used to sniff out thyroid cancer in people who had not yet been diagnosed, US researchers say. Tests on 34 patients showed an 88% success rate in finding tumours. The team, presenting their findings at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, said the animal had an "unbelievable" sense of smell. Dogs have over 40 times the number of smell receptors as people.
3-6-15 Horses understand human gestures
Horses understand human gestures
Horses can read human signals and use their own experiences when responding to tasks.
3-2-15 Weasel photographed riding on a woodpecker's back
Weasel photographed riding on a woodpecker's back
Amateur photographer Martin Le-May, from Essex, has recorded the extraordinary image of a weasel riding on the back of a green woodpecker as it flies through the air. (Webmaster's comment: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's the Woodpecker-Weasel Dynamic Duo! Also known as trying to take too big a mouthful of something that can fly away with you, or weasels are not as smart as you think.)
2-25-15 The girl who gets gifts from birds
The girl who gets gifts from birds
Lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it's rare for that affection to be reciprocated. One young girl in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden - and they bring her gifts in return. Each morning, they fill the backyard birdbath with fresh water and cover bird-feeder platforms with peanuts. Gabi throws handfuls of dog food into the grass. As they work, crows assemble on the telephone lines, calling loudly to them. The crows would clear the feeder of peanuts, and leave shiny trinkets on the empty tray; an earring, a hinge, a polished rock. There wasn't a pattern. Gifts showed up sporadically - anything shiny and small enough to fit in a crow's mouth.
(Webmaster's comment: The "dumb animals" are reciprocating the human's generosity spontaneously without any incentive or training, but they had to "think" about it first! Crows obviously understand the concept of reciprocity. The Crows have established a trading relationship with a human being! Crows are definitely the most intelligent of non-human animals on this planet.)
2-21-15 Shy kangaroos prefer bigger groups
Shy kangaroos prefer bigger groups
Shy female kangaroos have fewer 'friends' but gather in larger groups than bolder individuals. Making friends and acquaintances is not a random act for kangaroos, instead they actively choose who they mix with and how often. Female eastern grey kangaroos have been shown to spend time with some other females while avoiding others altogether.
2-20-15 Dogs can tell if you're untrustworthy
Dogs can tell if you're untrustworthy
Dogs are not fooled for long by misleading cues, and stop responding to people who have proven unreliable. They are very socially aware, both of humans and of each other. Recent research has found that they can tell the difference between happy and angry faces, and even show jealousy. It now seems that they can sense when a person is untrustworthy. Once a dog has decided a person is unreliable, it stops following the cues they give.
2-12-15 Dogs 'can tell difference between happy and angry faces'
Dogs 'can tell difference between happy and angry faces'
Research is now suggesting something dog-lovers have long suspected - man's best friend can tell the difference between our happy and angry faces. The team tested whether dogs could differentiate between human facial expressions.
2-6-15 Are their any homosexual animals?
Are their any homosexual animals?
Lots of animals engage in homosexual behaviour, but whether they are truly homosexual is another matter entirely. That many humans are homosexual is well known but we also know the behaviour is extremely common across the animal kingdom, from insects to mammals. So what's really going on? Can these animals actually be called homosexual?
2-5-15 Chimps 'learn local grunts' to talk to new neighbours
Chimps 'learn local grunts' to talk to new neighbours
Chimpanzees can change their grunts to communicate better with new companions, according to a study of two groups that were housed together in Edinburgh.
2-4-15 Sperm whales target fishing boats for an easy meal
Sperm whales target fishing boats for an easy meal
Deep beneath the surface of the Gulf of Alaska an extraordinary marine crime has been taking place. Sperm whales, the ocean's largest predators, have been targeting the boats of black cod fishermen and swiping their catch off their lines.
2-3-15 Birds take it in turns to lead, say scientists
Birds take it in turns to lead, say scientists
Scientists have worked out how flocking birds solve what they have termed the "social dilemma" of who leads the flock. They found that birds took it in turns to take the very energy-depleting lead. This allowed every bird to take advantage of extra lift produced by the wings of the bird in front.
1-29-15 Chicks place low numbers on the left
Chicks place low numbers on the left
Scientists in Italy have found that baby chickens associate low and high numbers with left and right, respectively - just like humans. In a series of experiments, 60 newborn chicks were shown patterns of shapes representing different numbers, before choosing a direction. Humans are known to use a "mental number line" to think about quantities but this innate left-right association has not been seen in animals before.
1-24-15 Crows may be able to make analogies
Crows may be able to make analogies
Birds pass a lab test for picking out similar relationships. Hooded crows have passed a challenging lab test designed to see whether animals can think in terms of analogies.
1-17-15 Join The Conversation
Join The Conversation
New ways to decode animal chatter reveal a lot about what they are saying by Hal Hadson (Webmaster's comment: It's obvious that animals of the same species talk to each other. We just don't understand their language anymore than most of them understand ours. But some animals do a much better job of understanding our language than we do of theirs. Some dogs understand over 600 human words. Our arrogance seems to get in our way. Also see:
Scandinavian scientists develop dog 'translator'
A group of inventors in Sweden and Finland claims to be close to developing a dog-to-English translator.)
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39 Animal Intelligence News Articles
from 1st Half of 2015
Animal Intelligence News Articles from 2nd Half of 2014