Going, going ….

30 03 2016


This dizzying expanse of carpet reveals major progress on a v. tough book chapter. That’s two last sections’ worth of reading/updating there: and that’s IT!

Then… only six other chapters to go. I need to finish this before I retire….

The “not” face

30 03 2016

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A new emotional facial expression has been discovered (above), to add to the
classic “Ekman six” (right).

It’s the “Yeah… no WAY” expression, and seems to be universal.

How to create a side bias

30 03 2016


Misha just cannot resist the way his hens swarm out to explore the moment the pen door is open a chink. This is a good way to create horrible side biases in his data, and if I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a thousand times: “Misha you spoil those hens”.

But it IS pretty cute behaviour, and also quite intriguing: first evidence of boredom in chickens?

Hot mink penis

28 03 2016

Yep, I have this twisted desire for more pervs to visit my site.

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Maria is pulling out data on the temperature of mink ‘hot spots‘ (turns out the urethral area is one), to see if animals who can’t spread out without touching a cagemate have trouble shedding excess heat on hot summer days (part of our mink cage size project).



Book progress!

19 03 2016

Mike Mendl‘s been here all week, and we’ve been working hard on our book, blitzing our two most daunting physiology chapters. Mike barely moved from his laptop for five days!  I was more distracted, but did read/reread 20-30 papers and managed to shorten my HPA chapter so it was less deathly dull.

Once we get these two done (that’s the rest of my HPA chapter arrayed around Mike’s feet), we’re hoping everything else (the pile on the dead running machine) will seem easy…


Thinking about death

18 03 2016


This is us (L to R Misha, Jenna, Mike, Maria and Andrea) discussing the ‘Ethics of Killing Animals’, a book we’ve been reading all fall and winter. It’s proved very tough going, but intriguing.

In prep for philosopher Gary Varner‘s visit in two weeks time, we’ve just re-read the six chapters that we’d already covered to date, working in pairs to (try and) re-explain them to everyone else.


Tough even the second time around, but we did manage to distil our questions for Gary into three main ones:

I. Does death really matter for an individual, as long as it’s swift and painless?

One view of death is that it is not bad for the individual who dies (providing the death is suffering-free) because after subject dies they no longer exist to experience this as a harm (apparently first advanced by Lucretius and Epicurus; now a principle or stance that the non-existent have no properties). No-one in the book developed this: why not?

II. ‘Deprivation accounts’ of the badness of death

The more common view is that death is bad for the individual because it deprives them of future benefits. But some emphasise future net wellbeing benefits (something any sentient being could have and lose) and others emphasise the curtailing of plans & expectancies for the future (requiring the subject to have a ‘narrative’ about their lives: something only some humans and some animals have). Why do philosophers differ in what they feel death deprives us of?

III. The ‘Pseudo Maths’ of utilitarianism

Is it really possible to weigh up harms vs. benefits in an objective manner?  Why are future harms/benefits given less weight than current ones? And are we then morally obligated to create more and more happy individuals if we can?

Making Andrea blush

17 03 2016

Andrea got her first lead-authored (SOLE-authored) paper pretty much accepted today: a review of self-injurious behaviour in primates, using the “Tinbergen’s Four Whys” framework I promote in my applied ethology class, that’ll now hopefully be accepted by AABS after some minor revision.

Check out lovely Referee Two:

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