Tag: Animal Behavior

Seeking a New Lens to Study Same-Sex Behavior in Animals

Male field crickets perform mating songs and dances for each other. Female Japanese macaque monkeys pair off into temporary but exclusive sexual partnerships. Pairs of male box crabs occasionally indulge in days-long marathon sex sessions. Comparable arrangements can be found in damselflies, Humboldt squid, garter snakes, penguins and cattle. In fact over 1,500 species across […]

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Veterans Join Airlines in Pushback Against Conduct Unbecoming a Support Dog

WASHINGTON — It seemed, in retrospect, a bit of a low point — a medium-size dog racing through an airplane at 30,000 feet, spraying diarrhea toward passengers throughout the cabin. But according to some transportation officials, it was an increasingly typical scene that has stemmed from the growing use of comfort animals on airplanes — […]

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Dogs Can’t Help Falling in Love

TEMPE, Ariz. — Xephos is not the author of “Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You,” one of the latest books to plumb the nature of dogs, but she helped inspire it. And as I scratched behind her ears, it was easy to see why. First, she fixed on me with imploring […]

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New Pecking Order: Wild Turkeys Take Over a Town Before You-Know-When

TOMS RIVER, N.J. — There was a time when Don Kliem enjoyed feeding sunflower seeds and millet to the wild turkeys that wandered near his ranch-style house in Toms River, N.J., a coastal town about 75 miles south of New York. “But then they got very bold,” said Mr. Kliem, 81. “They would knock on […]

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Ultra-Black Is the New Black

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — On a laboratory bench at the National Institute of Standards and Technology was a square tray with two black disks inside, each about the width of the top of a Dixie cup. Both disks were undeniably black, yet they didn’t look quite the same. Solomon Woods, 49, a trim, dark-haired, soft-spoken physicist, […]

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The Bacterial Surprise in This Bird’s Smell

When a bird preens its feathers, it uses a little of nature’s own pomade: an oil made by glands just above the tail. This oil helps clean and protect the bird’s plumage, but also contains a delicate bouquet of scents. To other birds — potential mates or would-be rivals — these smells carry many messages, […]

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Tiny Brains Don’t Stop These Birds From Having a Complex Society

A pack of baldheaded, boldly plumaged birds steps through the grass shoulder to shoulder, red eyes darting around. They look like middle schoolers seeking a cafeteria table at lunchtime. Perhaps they’re not so different. A study published Monday in Current Biology shows that the vulturine guineafowl of eastern Africa, like humans, have many-layered societies. In […]

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Why Do Parrots Waste So Much Food?

Polly wants a cracker. Polly gets chopped vegetables, because parrots need a diverse array of nutrients. Polly eats one bite and flings the rest onto the floor. This is a common occurrence in the homes of parrot-lovers across the world. No matter what sort of delicious, nutritious meal is prepared, “half of it lands on […]

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Victoria Braithwaite, Researcher Who Said Fish Feel Pain, Dies at 52

In his 2005 novel, “Saturday,” the acclaimed writer Ian McEwan describes what his protagonist, Henry Perowne, sees when he visits a London seafood market to buy ingredients for a fish stew: crates of crabs and lobsters, still moving, and marble slabs arrayed with “bloodless white flesh, and eviscerated silver forms.” While there, he ponders reports […]

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In Lebanon, the Hyena’s Main Fear Is Fear Itself

KFAR TOUN, Lebanon — Close to midnight, Mounir Abi-Said sat on the roof of his bright yellow Land Rover and shined a spotlight across the landscape, looking for striped hyenas. Warm fog swirled in the headlights. A bat detector crackled as it picked up sonar. Some years ago, when Dr. Abi-Said, a conservation biologist and […]

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Happy as a Crab That Just Finished a Maze

To the rippling sound of an aquarium pump, a small crab comes around the corner. It moves sideways, sticking close to the walls. But when it catches sight of a mussel — laid as a reward at the end of the maze it has just walked — the crab breaks into a skipping run, throwing […]

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200 Dispatches: Odd Animals, Offbeat Childhoods, Celebrity Origins and Extreme Sports

Suicidal dogs, homicidal crocodiles and très chic bees. The hometowns of Melania Trump, Stalin and the (very) remote village where Andy Warhol’s parents met. Icy marathons across Siberian lakes, bare-chested wrestling on horseback and nude badminton (in thankfully balmy weather). And let’s not forget Dutch children dropped off in the midnight woods; Finnish girls who […]

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Carl Safina Is Certain Your Dog Loves You

Carl Safina, 64, an ecologist at Stony Brook University on Long Island and a “MacArthur genius” grant winner, has written nine books about the human connection to the animal world. Coming next spring is “Becoming Wild,” on the culture of animals, and a young adult version of “Beyond Words,” on the capabilities of dogs and […]

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Trilobite Fossils Show Conga Line Frozen for 480 Million Years

You probably don’t think twice when you queue up at the grocery store or join a conga line at a wedding. But this type of single-file organization is a sophisticated form of collective social behavior. And as suggested by the children’s song “The Ants Go Marching One-By-One,” humans are not the only animals that appreciate […]

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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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Was Heidi the Octopus Really Dreaming?

Heidi the octopus is sleeping. Her body is still, eight arms tucked neatly away. But her skin is restless. She turns from ghostly white to yellow, flashes deep red, then goes mottled green and bumpy like plant life. Her muscles clench and relax, sending a tendril of arm loose. If you haven’t seen this video […]

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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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