Tag: Animal Behavior

What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage

To celebrate Modern Love’s 15th anniversary this month, we are publishing a series of special features — three “classic” essays from the column’s early years and four conversations with writers whose stories were adapted for the television series that begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video Oct. 18. This week, we reprise Amy Sutherland’s viral sensation […]

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What Rolls Like an Armadillo but Lives in the Sea?

Why did the chiton roll into a ball? “To get to the other side,” said Julia Sigwart, an evolutionary biologist at Queens University Belfast in Northern Ireland. About 500 million years ago, a couple species of now extinct trilobites became the first animals to roll themselves into a ball for protection. The trilobite’s living doppelgänger […]

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Cats Like People! (Some People, Anyway)

In the perennial battle over dogs and cats, there’s a clear public relations winner. Dogs are man’s best friend. They’re sociable, faithful and obedient. Our relationship with cats, on the other hand, is often described as more transactional. Aloof, mysterious and independent, cats are with us only because we feed them. Or maybe not. On […]

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Sydney Is for the Birds. The Bigger and Bolder, the Better.

SYDNEY — The bushy pair of laughing kookaburras that used to show up outside my daughter’s bedroom window disappeared a few months ago. The birds simply vanished — after rudely waking us every morning with their maniacal “koo-koo-kah-KAH-KAH” call, after my kids named them Ferrari and Lamborghini, after we learned that kookaburras mate for life. […]

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Jane Goodall Keeps Going, With a Lot of Hope (and a Bit of Whiskey)

Jane Goodall nursed a glass of neat Irish whiskey. It was the end of a long day of public appearances, and her voice was giving out. That’s what Ms. Goodall does these days. She talks. To anyone who will listen. To children, chief executives and politicians. Her message is always the same: The forests are […]

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For Poison Dart Frogs, Markings Matter When It Comes to Survival

The fanciful colored markings of poison dart frogs are a warning to predators: If you eat me, you’ll regret it. These tiny, colorful creatures secrete bitter toxins in their skin, and birds have come to associate their distinctive markings with danger. The frogs’ chemical defenses can cause swelling, paralysis and sometimes even death. Their markings […]

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New Electric Eel Is Most Shocking Yet

The average shock from an electric eel lasts about two-thousandths of a second. The pain isn’t searing — unlike, say, sticking your finger in a wall socket — but isn’t pleasant: a brief muscle contraction, then numbness. For scientists who study the animal, the pain comes with the professional territory. “I remember the first time […]

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Squirrels Relax When They Hear Birds Relaxing

It will come as no surprise to squirrel lovers — and haters, for that matter — that the twitchy, resourceful rodents are exquisitely attuned to the world around them. Researchers at Oberlin College reported Wednesday in the scientific journal PLoS One that squirrels pay attention not only to alarm calls, as many animals do, but […]

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Dogs Are Not Here for Our Convenience

I’ve never lived with a dog with testes or ovaries. My pups all came from shelters, whose policies have often been to desex a dog before adoption if possible. I never knew Pumpernickel as a fertile young thing or Finnegan: The Virile Version. This is by design, and the design had its desired effect. I […]

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Hanging Out With Humans Makes This Bird Bad at Its Job

Humans can be a terrible influence on birds. Crows that live near us end up with high cholesterol, sparrows screech to be heard over oil pumps, and instead of migrating, some storks now just eat trash. At times, our habits and behaviors are contagious enough to change whole ecosystems. According to a study published in […]

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In Defense of Sea Gulls: They’re Smart, and They Co-Parent, 50/50 All the Way

Here are three good things about gulls: They are devoted parents. Males share child care equally with females. That includes sitting on the eggs during incubation. And they have figured out a way — actually many ways — to survive in a harsh and unforgiving world. Some eat clams, some eat fish, some are attracted […]

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Some Migratory Birds Sleep Better Than Others

Every spring, throngs of garden warblers make a treacherous, multiweek journey from their winter homes in Africa to their summer breeding grounds in Europe. The small, brown-and-white songbirds fly thousands of miles, across the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea, en route to their destinations. It’s an exhausting, arduous trip, and the warblers make numerous pit […]

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Florida’s Panthers Hit With Mysterious Crippling Disorder

In southwest Florida, any sighting of the state’s iconic panther — on your porch, lounging in the backyard, advancing toward you on a trail — might go viral. But on Monday afternoon, the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission took to social media to crowdsource a different kind of video: panthers that seem to have […]

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The Thick Gray Line: Forest Elephants Defend Against Climate Change

Poaching destabilizes nations, disrupts ecosystems and threatens biodiversity. A recent study suggests still another consequence: Some types of poaching may also accelerate climate change. Forest elephants — the smaller, endangered relatives of African savanna elephants — promote the growth of large trees that excel at storing carbon, according to research published in the journal Nature […]

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Things People Say to Their Dogs

section[name=”articleBody”] h2 { margin-bottom: 0.5rem !important; } h3 { margin-top: 0em !important; margin-bottom: 2em !important; font-weight: 500 !important; font-family: nyt-imperial,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif !important; } We talk to dogs. Happily so, for there is little bleaker than seeing a person texting while dragging a dog by her leash. It’s so natural to talk to dogs that […]

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How ‘The Lion King’ Gets Real-Life Lion Family Dynamics Wrong

It’s got everyone’s favorite farting warthog, graceful giraffes, lumbering elephants and a whole cast of realistic-looking animal characters. Watching Simba and his pals try to regain their rightful place in the kingdom may have you thinking that Disney’s “The Lion King” is a pretty accurate depiction of what happens in the African savanna. But it’s […]

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