animals

What’s up with your bad breath onion rings

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Stanley: I lost my brother years ago

Ford: (from the other room) QUIT TELLING PEOPLE I’M DEAD

Stanley: Sometimes I can still hear his voice

{ Cyclone Rachel }

Azur, nos bêtes sont bondées d’un cri

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Dogs can infer the name of an object and have been shown to learn the names of over 1,000 objects. Dogs can follow the human pointing gesture; even nine week old puppies can follow a basic human pointing gesture without being taught.

New Guinea Singing dogs, a half-wild proto-dog endemic to the remote alpine regions of New Guinea, as well as Dingoes in the remote outback of Australia are also capable of this.

These examples demonstrate an ability to read human gestures that arose early in domestication and did not require human selection. “Humans did not develop dogs, we only fine-tuned them down the road.”

Similar to the chimpanzee, Bonobos are a close genetic cousin to humans. Unlike the chimpanzee, bonobos are not aggressive and do not participate in lethal intergroup aggression or kill within their own group. The most distinctive features of a bonobo are its cranium, which is 15% smaller than a chimpanzee’s, and its less aggressive and more playful behavior. Dogs mirror these differences relative to wild wolves: a dog’s cranium is 15% smaller than an equally heavy wolf’s, and the dog is less aggressive and more playful. The guinea pig’s cranium is 13% smaller than its wild cousin the cavie and domestic fowl show a similar reduction to their wild cousins. Possession of a smaller cranium for holding a smaller brain is a telltale sign of domestication. Bonobos appear to have domesticated themselves.

In the “farm fox” experiment, humans selectively bred foxes against aggression which caused a domestication syndrome. The foxes were not selectively bred for smaller craniums and teeth, floppy ears, or skills at using human gestures but these traits were demonstrated in the friendly foxes.

Natural selection favors those that are the most successful at reproducing, not the most aggressive. Selection against aggression made possible the ability to cooperate and communicate among foxes, dogs and bonobos. Perhaps it did the same thing for humans.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

In the eyes of the pale criminal Zarathustra finds the great contempt

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The box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri is infamous. Its venom will kill a human within minutes. This much I’ve known for decades. What I didn’t know until yesterday is that C. fleckeri has 24 eyes and appears to sleep.

More than a decade ago, researchers in Australia superglued acoustic transmitters to several box jellyfish (without getting stung) and set them free. Using an underwater microphone, they were then able to track their movements. During the daytime, the jellyfish moved in straight lines, typically covering around 200 m an hour. At night, they basically stopped. “During these periods of “inactivity”, the jellyfish lie motionless on the sea floor, with no bell pulsation occurring and with tentacles completely relaxed and in contact with the sea floor,” wrote Jamie Seymour, a biologist at James Cook University in Cairns in The Medical Journal of Australia. A small disturbance – like a light or a vibration – “causes the animals to rise from the sea floor, swim around for a short period, and then fall back into an inactive state on the sand,” they reported.

The clear distinction between activity and rest raises the possibility that the box jellyfish is capable of sleep, a state most commonly associated with vertebrates. Why would a box jellyfish need to sleep? One possibility, suggested by Seymour and his colleagues, is that it uses its eyes to hunt. In the dark, when vision is limited, “it makes a lot of sense to become inactive, decrease your energy used in locomotion and divert it to growth.”

{ The Guardian | Continue reading }

photo { Melvin Sokolsky, Lip Streaks, 1967 }

‘When I don’t have red, I use blue.’ –Picasso

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Ivan Pavlov is best known as a founding figure of behaviorism who trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell. […] Pavlov didn’t use a bell, and for his real scientific purposes, couldn’t. English-speakers think he did because of a mistranslation of the Russian word for zvonok (buzzer). […]

Although one would expect that this investigator of reflexive reactions would think otherwise, he believed in free will. […]

He didn’t win his Nobel Prize (1904) for research on conditional reflexes, but rather for his studies of digestive physiology.

{ Oxford University Press | Continue reading | More: New Yorker }

Better where she is down there: away. Occupy her. Wanted a dog to pass the time. Might take a trip down there.

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Journalists consider the importance of events and the audience’s interest in them when deciding on which events to report. Events most likely to be reported are those that are both important and can capture the audience’s interest. In turn, the public is most likely to become aware of important news when some aspect of the story piques their interest.

We suggest an efficacious means of drawing public attention to important news stories: dogs. Examining the national news agenda of 10 regional newspapers relative to that of the New York Times, we evaluated the effect of having a dog in a news event on the likelihood that the event is reported in regional newspapers.

The “dog effect” is approximately equivalent to the effect of whether a story warrants front- or back-page national news coverage in the New York Times. Thus, we conclude that dogs are an important factor in news decisions.

{ Cambridge University Press | PDF }

‘The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government.’ —Tacitus

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[T]he Office will refuse to register a claim if it determines that a human being did not create the work. […]

[T]he Office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings. […]

A musical work created solely by an animal would not be registrable, such as a bird song or whale song. Likewise, music generated entirely by a mechanical or an automated process is not copyrightable. […]

To qualify as a work of authorship a choreographic work must be created by a human being and it must be intended for execution by humans. Dances performed or intended to be performed by animals, machines, or other animate or inanimate objects are not copyrightable and cannot be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

{ U.S. Copyright Office /Popular Science | Continue reading }

cause he crosses his hind legs

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For centuries, horse riding was largely restricted to males. The previous situation is in stark contrast to the present day, when nearly 80 percent of riders are women. Modern-day equestrian sports are unique in that men and women compete directly against one another at all levels, from beginners in gymkhanas to national champions in the Olympic Games. “For this reason it is interesting to consider whether a theory of riding that was developed exclusively for men can be applied to women,” explains Natascha Ille, the first author of the recent publication.

As Ille notes, “It is often assumed that women are more sensitive towards their horses than men. If this is so, male and female riders should elicit different types of response from their horses.” […]

The results were surprising: the level of stress on a horse is independent of whether a man or a woman is in the saddle.

{ University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | Continue reading }

related { Horses read each other’s ears }

photo { Gérard Marot }

Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize we were using your personal, specific definitions for so many words.

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This study is related to the use of natural ventilation silencers for the howling and barking (hereafter referred to as “barking”) of dogs. With the spread of nuclear families, low birth rates, and aging populations, pets play an important role in advanced nations. In Japan, the number of complaints and problems caused by the noise created by barking dogs is increasing; it represents the major component of noises in living spaces, thus necessitating some sort of countermeasure. In addition, dogs in veterinary hospitals are housed in connecting cages; one dog’s barking can cause others to bark as well, creating stress in the other animals in the hospital.

One method being considered to remedy this situation is the attachment of a sound insulating board to the opening of the cages and the utilization of forced ventilation. However, the use of sound boards and forced ventilation creates a number of issues, including problems such as hindrance in communicating with animals, noise associated with ventilation intake and output, noise from fans within cages, cost, energy consumption, and the risks of malfunction and power outages; collectively, these problems make this solution unfeasible. […]

We created a prototype based on resonance within a rectangular chamber divided into cells, adding nonwoven sheets to the interior, tail pipes, and coaxial side branch tube silencers to the open end. We then assessed the sound attenuation performance.

{ International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Applications | PDF }

Should a chimp be able to sue its owner?

{ Chimps Best Humans at Game Theory }

‘People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It’s not true.’ –Kundera

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Many gardeners and horticulturalists seek non-chemical methods to control populations of snails. It has frequently been reported that snails that are marked and removed from a garden are later found in the garden again. This phenomenon is often cited as evidence for a homing instinct.

We report a systematic study of the snail population in a small suburban garden, in which large numbers of snails were marked and removed over a period of about 6 months. While many returned, inferring a homing instinct from this evidence requires statistical modelling. […]

Maximum likelihood techniques infer the existence of two groups of snails in the garden: members of a larger population that show little affinity to the garden itself, and core members of a local garden population that regularly return to their home if removed. The data are strongly suggestive of a homing instinct, but also reveal that snail-throwing can work as a pest management strategy.

{ The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences | Continue reading | LA Times }

art { Vincent van Gogh, Plain Near Auvers, 1890 }

‘If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I knew the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.’ —Albert Einstein

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It was only a few decades ago that incision and suction were recommended snakebite first aid. However, concerns arose about injuries and infections caused when laypersons made incisions across fang marks and applied mouth suction. Meanwhile, several snakebite suction devices (eg, Cutter’s Snakebite Kit, Venom Ex) were evaluated, and it was determined that they were neither safe nor effective. So, recommendations changed, and mechanical suction without incision was advocated instead. It seemed intuitive that suction alone would probably remove venom and should not cause harm. However, when the techniques were studied rigorously, quite the opposite was discovered.

One of the most popular suction devices, the Sawyer Extractor pump (Sawyer Products, Safety Harbor, FL), operates by applying approximately 1 atm of negative pressure directly over a fang puncture wound (or wounds) without making incisions. […] Although each of these 3 studies was done independently of each other and using different methodology, they arrive at the same conclusion: the Extractor does not work, and it could make things worse.

{ Annals of Emergency Medecine | PDF }

And Night, the fantastical, comes now

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Horses are the only species other than man transported around the world for competition purposes.

In humans, transport across several time zones can result in adverse symptoms commonly referred to as jetlag.

Can changes in the light/dark cycle, equivalent to those caused by transport across several time zones, affect daily biological rhythms, and performance in equine athletes?

[…]

We found that horses do feel a change in the light/dark cycle very acutely, but they also recover very quickly, and this resulted in an improvement in their performance rather than a decrease in their performance, which was exactly the opposite of what we thought was going to happen.

{ HBLB | PDF }