Heat-seeking noses

11 03 2020

Dogs’ cold, damp noses can discriminate temperatures, shows a new paper in Scientific Reports (nicely written up in Science here).

Not quite vampire bats, but still very impressive! And once again, I feel this work very much needs replicating in cats.

Screenshot 2020-03-10 20.33.37

Behavioural effects of mouse tears

15 02 2020

Hmm, it seems that murine tears are useful after all!


Screenshot 2020-02-14 21.38.26


Charitable parrots

13 01 2020

First there were empathic rats, and now it’s charitable African greys who’ll pass each other tokens that can be exchanged for walnuts. (But blue macaws are not so nice however: rather more chimp-like apparently).

There’s a nice write up here, and the original Current Biology paper can be found here — neither of which I’ve yet read to find out why the authors used tokens and not walnuts themselves. But maybe tokens reduce impulsivity, the way numerals did in Sally Boysen’s classic pointing task?

Screenshot 2020-01-12 16.07.14(https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/parrots-share-currency-help-their-pals-purchase-food-180973917/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=socialmedia)

Crows ace another test

28 11 2019

Screenshot 2019-11-27 21.51.56Building on a 2014 study, crows once again show they can pass the Marshmallow Test: https://www.sciencealert.com/once-again-crows-have-passed-the-marshmallow-test-and-demonstrated-self-control.


Nightmares are useful?

27 11 2019

Not read the paper yet, but the BBC’s write-up is intriguing: https://www.bbc.com/news/education-50563835.
Screenshot 2019-11-27 09.07.09.png

Does this mean if I ever have to get across London by tube to catch a plane that’s about to leave, with all my luggage in 6-10 fragile overfull plastic bags that are stretching and breaking, I’ll just be ready for it?

We R nerdy

27 10 2019

Michelle and Melanie show off their R button badges: swag from a workshop attended by Aileen. We embrace our inner nerds in this lab!!  (This is while we enjoy some Fall sun, waiting for everyone to gather for this semester’s ‘journal’ club: a break from stats to read Melissa Bateson‘s draft chapters for a new edition of her father’s book, Measuring Behaviour).


Animal behaviour in the news

29 09 2019

Three imaginative animal papers made the news in the last couple of weeks.

Screenshot 2019-09-29 18.42.27First, grey squirrels were found to have a clever “it’s quiet… too quiet” vigilance response to the sudden cessation of bird chatter around them (original paper here, and nice write up by the Smithsonian here).

Next, rats were found to be great at playing hide-and-seek with humans, and to Screenshot 2019-09-29 18.49.06have (if I understand it aright) patterns of PFC firing that matched the behavioural inhibition you need to play this game well (original paper here, and cute write up by The Atlantic here). I really hope the researchers adopted them afterwards; after all, can you really kill a research animal you’ve played a role play game with?

092019_SB_cat-attachment_feat-1028x579Last but not least, cats can show attachment-like bonds with owners, it seems! (Interesting write up with a critical Danny Mills here, with the original paper here). Past work has been less kind to cats, but in my very biased experience Sylvie is less scared at the vets (where yesterday she was diagnosed as having the teeth of a homeless meth addict), when she can rub her cheek on my hand. Let the controversies rage!