Links for Keyword: Animal Communication

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Ed Yong Listen very carefully in the rainforests of Brazil and you might hear a series of quiet, high-pitched squeaks. These are the alarm calls of the black-fronted titi (Callicebus nigrifrons), a monkey with a rusty-brown tail that lives in small family units. The cries are loaded with information. Cristiane Cäsar, a biologist at the University of St Andrews, UK, and her colleagues report that the titis mix and match two distinct calls to tell each other about the type of predator that endangers them, as well as the location of the threat. Her results are published in Biology Letters1. Cäsar's team worked with five groups of titis that live in a private nature reserve in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil. When the researchers placed a stuffed caracara — a bird of prey — in the treetops, the titis gave out A-calls, which have a rising pitch. When the animals saw a ground-based threat — represented by an oncilla, a small spotted cat — they produced B-calls, sounds with a falling pitch. However, when the team moved the predator models around, the monkeys tweaked their calls. If the caracara was on the ground, the monkeys started with at least four A-calls before adding B-calls into the mix. If the oncilla was in a tree, the monkeys made a single introductory A-call before switching to B-calls. “A single call doesn’t really tell the recipient what’s happening, but they can infer the type of predator and its location by listening to the first five or six calls,” says co-author Klaus Zuberbühler of the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. “The five different groups were almost unanimous in their response. There was no deviation.” © 2013 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 18606 - Posted: 09.04.2013

Virginia Morell A wolf’s howl is one of the most iconic sounds of nature, yet biologists aren’t sure why the animals do it. They’re not even sure if wolves howl voluntarily or if it’s some sort of reflex, perhaps caused by stress. Now, scientists working with captive North American timber wolves in Austria report that they’ve solved part of the mystery. Almost 50 years ago, wildlife biologists suggested that a wolf’s howls were a way of reestablishing contact with other pack members after the animals became separated, which often happens during hunts. Yet, observers of captive wolves have also noted that the pattern of howls differs depending on the size of the pack and whether the dominant, breeding wolf is present, suggesting that the canids’ calls are not necessarily automatic responses. Friederike Range, a cognitive ethologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, was in a unique position to explore the conundrum. Since 2008, she and her colleagues have hand-raised nine wolves at the Wolf Science Center in Ernstbrunn, which she co-directs. “We started taking our wolves for walks when they were 6 weeks old, and as soon as we took one out, the others would start to howl,” she says. “So immediately we became interested in why they howl.” Although the center’s wolves don’t hunt, they do howl differently in different situations, Range says. “So we also wanted to understand these variations in their howling.” © 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 18556 - Posted: 08.24.2013

by Carrie Arnold If you want to survive as an ant, you'd better get ready to make some noise. A new study shows that even ant pupae—a stage between larvae and adult—can communicate via sound, and that this communication can be crucial to their survival. "What's very cool about this paper is that researchers have shown for the first time that pupae do, in fact, make some sort of a sound," says Phil DeVries, an entomologist at the University of New Orleans in Louisiana who was not involved in the study. "This was a very clever piece of natural history and science." Scientists have known for decades that ants use a variety of small chemicals known as pheromones to communicate. Perhaps the most classic example is the trail of pheromones the insects place as they walk. Those behind them follow this trail, leading to long lines of ants marching one by one. However, the insects also use pheromones to identify which nest an ant is from and its social status in that nest. Because this chemical communication is so prevalent and complex, researchers long believed that this was the primary way ants shared information. However, several years ago, researchers began to notice that adults in some ant genuses, such as Myrmica, which contains more than 200 diverse species found across Europe and Asia, made noise. These types of ants have a specialized spike along their abdomen that they stroke with one of their hind legs, similar to dragging the teeth of a comb along the edge of a table. Preliminary studies seemed to indicate that this noise served primarily as an emergency beacon, allowing the ants to shout for help when being threatened by a predator. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17779 - Posted: 02.09.2013

by Tracy Staedter In this sweet video, a wild bottlenose dolphin slowly approaches a diver, who is with a group that’s watching manta rays near Kona, Hawaii. The dolphin rolls to one side, apparently showing the diver, named Keller Laros, that it’s tangled in fishing net and has a hook stuck in its fin. According to Yahoo News, the dolphin surfaced once for a breath air during the procedure and then returned to the diver, who finished the job of cutting away the net and removing the hook. Once the dolphin was free, it swam away. © 2013 Discovery Communications, LLC

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17713 - Posted: 01.26.2013

by Emily Underwood In the Hans Christian Andersen tale "The Nightingale," a songbird melts an emperor's heart with its singing, but flies away when the ruler forces it to sing duets with a jeweled, mechanical bird that warbles only waltzes. There's a moral here, a new study suggests. Although humans have long attributed musical qualities to birdsong, cold, hard statistics show that's all an illusion. The birds we prize most for their songs sound most like the human voice, says Robert Zatorre, a cognitive neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who was not involved in the study. The sounds they make have clear tones, repeat similar phrases, and are made of discrete notes. Despite these pleasing attributes, however, it has never been scientifically proven that the notes in birdsong follow the same organizational rules that govern most musical compositions. In fact, says ecologist Marcelo Araya-Salas of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, author of the new study, no one has ever addressed the question using quantitative methods. Billions of potential notes exist between the low and high notes in an octave. But for reasons that researchers only partially understand—the physiological limits of human hearing, for example, and cultural preferences that have evolved over time—most music is based on variations of only five to 12 notes. A baby grand piano, which has 88 keys, is tuned so that each octave is divided into twelve equal intervals, called half-steps, that form the 12-note chromatic scale underlying most of Western music. The seven-note diatonic scale, "do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti (do)," is another familiar example, as is the ancient five-note, pentatonic scale used in Greek lyre music and nearly every riff played on the electric guitar. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 17172 - Posted: 08.16.2012

By SINDYA N. BHANOO If you’ve heard one pygmy goat kid bleating, you’ve heard them all — unless, that is, you’re a mother goat. A new study reports that mothers can recognize the calls of their kids even after more than a year of separation. In the wild, female goats tend to stay within their groups, while males disperse. For their study, researchers separated the goats after weaning, and found that the mothers remembered the calls of their offspring for 7 to 13 months. The study appears in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “Mothers responded more to their kids born the previous year than to newborn kids born to other mothers,” said Elodie F. Briefer, an evolutionary biologist at Queen Mary, University of London, and one of the study’s authors. Dr. Briefer and her colleagues recorded kids when they were 5 weeks old, and played the recordings back to the mothers through a loudspeaker later. It isn’t clear why mother goats have this ability, but it could help mothers and daughters stay bonded and prevent mothers from inbreeding with their sons, Dr. Briefer said. “These functions would happen later in life, but the mothers would need to recognize their grown-up kids,” she said. The researchers worked with nine female pygmy goats and their kids at a farm in Nottinghamshire, England. They measured how quickly the goats responded to recorded calls, how many calls they made in response to what they heard, and how long they looked at the loudspeaker. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 16966 - Posted: 06.26.2012

By Susan Milius ALBUQUERQUE — Baby bluebirds don’t survive as well near rumbling traffic and other human din as they do amid natural lullabies. In a Virginia study, 35 percent more chicks died in the noisiest nests than in the most remote ones. Researchers found that chicks didn’t adjust for the noise by begging louder or at different frequencies. So parents may not have gotten the right cues for nestling care, behavioral ecologist John Swaddle suggested June 12 at the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society. Until recently, most research on how human-made noise discombobulates birds has focused on how adults adjust their songs (or don’t) or on what species will nest at all among the din. Research is now turning to how noise might directly affect the success of a species. One earlier study on reproductive success, in common European birds called great tits, found smaller clutches near roaring highways. Clutch size didn’t shrink among eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis), said Swaddle, a professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. Birds settling in to the 43 nest boxes he and his colleagues monitored for two years all started with about the same number of eggs. Just what made noisier nests less successful after hatching isn’t clear, but Swaddle suspects that noise kept parents from caring for their nestlings properly. Noise might have made food harder to find, or it might have masked normal parent-chick chat. Even though baby birds have become an icon of endlessly demanding maws, parents do tune their feeding effort to begging calls, and research has confirmed the importance of communication. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2012

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 16926 - Posted: 06.19.2012

By TARA THEAN Instead of spending the morning loading equipment onto boats and conceptualizing our follow strategy for the day, we spent it cleaning our motel rooms and preparing to leave. We enjoyed winding down at the farewell barbecue last night. The weather was perfect for a cookout: warm and slightly breezy. I particularly enjoyed eating my first hot meal in five days: two burgers and a hot dog. Our packed lunches on the boat had to be portable, sturdy and compact, which means our lunchboxes were filled with sandwiches and cereal bars. By dinnertime, I was always so exhausted that I couldn’t bring myself to eat more than cereal and milk. After we had settled down with food, our program director, Randall Wells, gave us a final debriefing about the week’s work. I was happy to hear that we had sampled and examined 16 dolphins in this round of fieldwork — in a typical field week, we find 10 to 15. Of these 16, four were high-priority animals that we had previously not had a chance to look at: FB274, FB233, FB276 and Boomer. I also found out that one of the dolphins we had thought was female was actually male — thankfully, he had been given the versatile name Pat. We needed plenty of teamwork and persistence to take us through the long, unpredictable days in the field. But even in the revelry of the farewell party, we had work left to do. In the evening, my supervisor, Laela Sayigh, and I hosed down the field gear for storage over the next few months and organized equipment back at the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program base. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 16831 - Posted: 05.23.2012

by Elizabeth Norton Bottlenose dolphins have a knack for language. They can understand both the meaning and the order of words conveyed through human hand gestures—correctly putting an item on the right side of their tank into a basket on the left, for example. Now humans, too, are beginning to understand dolphin language as more than just a cacophony of clicks, pulses, and whistles. A new study shows that dolphins use their own unique calls, known as signature whistles, to introduce themselves to others when meeting at sea. Until recently, researchers could study signature whistles only in captive animals—raising the question of whether the whistle developed in response to capture, isolation, or stress. A 2004 study showed that a group of free-swimming bottlenose dolphins in Florida did indeed use signature whistles. But information about how they used these sounds was scant. Marine biologists Vincent Janik and Nicola Quick of the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom were focusing on signature whistles as a way of understanding how dolphins communicate in the natural world. "Dolphins are comparable to great apes in their cognitive skills, but all we know is what they do in a lab," Janik explains. "We wanted to understand how dolphins use their intelligence outside of the tasks that humans set for them." © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 16458 - Posted: 03.01.2012

By Jason G. Goldman When you dive into the frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California, the first thing you notice is the silence. Other than the bitter cold. Your body begins to adapt to the chilly water as blades of slimy kelp brush across your ankles. You spit out the bit of brackish saltwater that inevitably seeps into your mouth. Then you quickly dunk your head into the sea so that you might wet your hair and wipe it away from your eyes. It’s in that moment – when you’re entirely submerged under the rolling waves – that you notice the silence. You can almost hear the oscillating thuds of the waves breaking against the sand. As your heart beats faster to push warm blood into your arms and legs, perhaps you might even be able to hear your own heartbeat. Even against the auditory backdrop of the pounding of the waves and your heart, you can’t help but perceive the quiet. If only it were so for the blue whales that call this corner of the ocean home, at least for part of the year. Each summer, groups of endangered blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) pass along the coast of Southern California between San Diego and Los Angeles. It isn’t a secret that the ocean is a noisy place if you’re a whale. In addition to the natural soundscape of the ocean, whales can hear sounds that have human origins, like sonar, passing ships, or underwater explosions. Considerable scientific attention has been paid to the effects of high-intensity anthropogenic noise on the communication abilities of whales and other marine mammals. After all, these animals communicate over vast distances by producing clicks, whistles, and songs. Previous findings have confirmed that the presence of ships interrupts blue whale songs. And some whales have been observed increasing the amplitude of their foraging calls in noisy environments, in an effort to aid others in distinguishing their communication from the undersea cacophony. Imagine having to pick out the sounds of only the cellos from amid an entire orchestra. © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 16457 - Posted: 03.01.2012

By Juliet Eilperin, Humpback whales on different sides of the southern Indian Ocean are singing different songs, according to a new study conducted by American and Australian researchers. The report challenges the past assumption that whales in the same ocean basin sing songs with similar themes. The humpback songs were recorded during the 2006 breeding season along the coasts of western Australia and Madagascar. The analysis was published in the January edition of the journal Marine Mammal Science. “Songs from Madagascar and western Australia only shared one similar theme; the rest of the themes were completely different,” said lead author Anita Murray, who is pursuing her doctorate at the University of Queensland in Australia. “The reason for this anomaly remains a mystery. It could be the influence of singing whales from other ocean basins, such as the South Pacific or Atlantic, indicating an exchange of individuals between oceans which is unique to the Southern Hemisphere.” The findings could provide new insight into how whale culture spreads. Male humpback whales are generally the ones that sing. The songs include rising and falling wails, moans and shrieks that repeat in cycles lasting up to half an hour. Researchers suspect that individuals from different humpback populations could transmit songs to one another when they are share feeding grounds or cross paths during migration. © 1996-2012 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 16357 - Posted: 02.07.2012

by Sara Reardon Péos, Mininos, Cécil, Teha, and Amtan are performing dolphins at the Planète Sauvage dolphinarium in Port-Saint-Père, France. Every day, as music and sounds of the sea play in the background, they show off their swimming, jumping, and ball-catching skills for an adoring audience and squawk and whistle just like dolphins should. But at night, they make strange noises that researchers believe are imitations of humpback whale songs included in the performance soundtrack. If so, the identification of this unexpected repertoire would mark the first time that dolphins have been heard to rehearse new sounds hours after hearing them rather than right away, providing insights into how they store and process memories. Researchers discovered the dolphins' midnight melodies by accident. Ethologist Martine Hausberger of the University of Rennes 1 in France and her colleagues had hung underwater microphones in the tank because little is known about what dolphins sound like at night. One night, they suddenly heard 25 new sounds (see below) that the dolphins had never made before, although they weren't sure which of the five animals was talking. Because dolphins are known for mimicry, the researchers examined their complex daytime environment to determine where the noises might be coming from. They finally zeroed in on the new soundtrack that Planète Sauvage was playing during performances, which included music, sea gulls' calls, the dolphins' own whistles, and humpback whale calls. When the researchers used a computer program to compare auditory recordings of the whale calls with the mysterious nighttime noises, it showed that the two sounds were very similar. And because the dolphins had been captive their entire lives, they couldn't have picked them up from real whales. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 16280 - Posted: 01.21.2012

By C. CLAIBORNE RAY Q. How do deer communicate? Do they have any ability to vocalize? A. As both hunters and zoologists know, deer have many means of communication, and vocalizations are an important part of their repertory. “Deer vocalizations are also notable for their diversity, ranging from doglike ‘alarm’ barks to high-pitched, whistlelike mating bugles,” according to a 2003 review article in the journal Advances in the Study of Behavior. The occasions for deer conversations vary by species, the article says, but include social contact, interactions between mother and young, encounters with predators and especially the complex negotiations involved in mating. An expert on hunting white-tail deer, T. R. Michels, offered a list of deer signals in his “Whitetail Addicts Manual” (Creative Publishing International). Among them are foot stomping, tail flagging, head bobbing, ear twitching, hoof pawing and nose licking; lunges, charges, chases, pokes and antler thrusts; and aggressive sounds he describes as grunt-snorts and grunt-snort-wheezes. There are also alarm snorts and bawls and less disturbing sounds, like social-contact grunts between does. Deer have a variety of glands that produce strongly scented hormonal signals. The vomeronasal organ detects hormones and other chemicals in urine with a characteristic intake of breath called the flehmen sniff. C. CLAIBORNE RAY © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 16212 - Posted: 01.03.2012

by Helen Shen SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—Underwater earthquake recordings could help track the endangered and poorly understood fin whale, according to research presented here last week at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Most quake researchers cull the whale's booming calls from their seafloor recordings. But one group of seismologists has flipped things around to harvest an extensive repertoire of fin whale songs. The second-largest among whales, fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) live in many of the world's oceans. Yet, relatively little is known about their social habits, breeding grounds, and seasonal migration paths. The animals stick mostly to deep waters far offshore, so following them by visual surveys and radio tagging can be difficult and costly. Seismologist William Wilcock of the University of Washington, Seattle, wondered if there was a better way. From 2003 to 2006, his group had measured undersea earthquakes that occur as new sea floor forms. Implanted in the ocean floor, their seismic detectors also picked up fin whale calls, which—at 17 to 35 hertz—overlap in frequency with Earth's rumblings. To extract earthquake information efficiently, the group developed computer programs to detect and filter out whale songs. Using a similar strategy to weed out seismic vibrations brought the singing whales to center stage. "We just turned the code around," says Dax Soule, a graduate student in Wilcock's lab. In 3 years, the researchers recorded about 300,000 fin whale calls near the Endeavour hydrothermal vents on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, near Vancouver Island in Canada. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 16156 - Posted: 12.15.2011

By ERIK OLSEN OFF THE BAHAMAS — In a remote patch of turquoise sea, Denise L. Herzing splashes into the water with a pod of 15 Atlantic spotted dolphins. For the next 45 minutes, she engages the curious creatures in a game of keep-away, using a piece of Sargassum seaweed like a dog’s chew toy. Dr. Herzing is no tourist cavorting with marine mammals. As the world’s leading authority on the species, she has been studying the dolphins for 25 years as part of the Wild Dolphin Project, the longest-running underwater study of its kind. “I’m kind of an old-school naturalist,” she said. “I really believe in immersing yourself in the environment of the animal.” Immerse herself she has. Based in Jupiter, Fla., she has tracked three generations of dolphins in this area. She knows every animal by name, along with individual personalities and life histories. She has captured much of their lives on video, which she is using to build a growing database. And next year Dr. Herzing plans to begin a new phase of her research, something she says has been a lifetime goal: real-time two-way communication, in which dolphins take the initiative to interact with humans. Up to now, dolphins have shown themselves to be adept at responding to human prompts, with food as a reward for performing a task. “It’s rare that we ask dolphins to seek something from us,” Dr. Herzing said. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 15816 - Posted: 09.20.2011

by Michael Marshall Dave the dolphin whistles, and his friend Alan whistles back. We can't yet decipher their calls, but some of the time Dave may be calling: "Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan!" Stephanie King of the University of St Andrews, UK, and colleagues monitored 179 pairs of wild bottlenose dolphins off the Florida coast between 1988 and 2004. Of these, 10 were seen copying each other's signature whistles, which the dolphins make to identify themselves to each other. The behaviour has never been documented before, and was only seen in pairs composed of a mother and her calf or adults who would normally move around and hunt together. The copied whistles changed frequency in the same way as real signature whistles, but either started from a higher frequency or didn't last as long, suggesting Dave was not merely imitating Alan. Copying only happened when a pair had become separated, which leads King to speculate that they were trying to get back together. She believes the dolphins were mimicking another animal's whistle as a way of calling them by name. King presented her research last week at the summer conference of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour in St Andrews. Justin Gregg of the Dolphin Communication Project in Old Mystic, Connecticut, remains cautious, and points out that the dolphins may copy the signature whistles simply because they hear them a lot. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 15774 - Posted: 09.08.2011

By KAY E. HOLEKAMP We had just started our afternoon “obs” a few days ago when we found three adult hyenas, all high-ranking females, sleeping on an open hillside. Then we saw something they hadn’t yet noticed: a very large male African cape buffalo that appeared to be dying. We could see from his worn teeth that he was very old, and though he could move his legs, he couldn’t seem to lift his head. One thing about studying large carnivores is that feeding can be difficult to watch. Although hyenas quickly kill smaller prey like gazelle by crushing the neck or skull, they tend to take down larger animals by disembowelment, letting their target bleed out, but that can take some time. We always hope the prey animal is in shock while this is happening, as there would be nothing we could do to speed up the prey animal’s death in any case. As the poet Tennyson put it, nature really is “red in tooth and claw.” Eventually the three females got up from their nap and noticed the buffalo. They were silent as they approached it, avoiding its flailing limbs as they began to tear off pieces of flesh with their sharp teeth. When the dying animal bellowed in pain, its herd-mates rushed over and charged the hyenas, which scattered but then approached again to continue feeding. Still the hyenas were silent, suggesting either that they needed no help to subdue the prey or that they preferred not to share it with their clan mates. However, as often happens, other hyenas apparently heard the cries of the dying buffalo, and started appearing from all directions. The arriving clan members were all very excited to see roughly 1,500 pounds of fresh food already brought to ground! It was not until cubs that had recently graduated from the communal den began arriving at this kill site that we started to hear hyena voices. As each youngster arrived at the scene, it was clearly overwhelmed with excitement and nervousness. This could easily be seen in their body postures, their bristled tails and most of all in their voices. They grinned and groveled before their larger clan mates, and produced many loud “whoop” vocalizations. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 15547 - Posted: 07.12.2011

by Michael Marshall If you've ever wondered what crows are saying when they caw at a perceived threat from the treetops, here is a sample: "I'm telling on you!" By watching who their neighbours and parents scold, one group of crows has learned to recognise and scold a dubious human. John Marzluff of the University of Washington in Seattle discovered five years ago that crows can recognise individual humansMovie Camera who posed a threat. He briefly trapped American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) on his university's campus while wearing a distinctive "caveman" mask. Afterwards, crows that had been trapped scolded anyone they spotted wearing the caveman mask, following them around and cawing harshly, but studiously ignored people wearing a neutral mask. Since then Marzluff has been monitoring the birds' response to the masks. Tests in which researchers toured the campus wearing masks showed that more and more crows had taken to scolding people sporting the caveman mask. Two weeks after the trapping, 26 per cent of crows scolded people wearing the offending mask, but 2.7 years later a remarkable 66 per cent did so. In the fifth year of the study, Marzluff barely got 50 metres out of his office in the caveman mask before a mob of crows started scolding him. The behaviour also gradually spread outwards from the original trapping site. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 15513 - Posted: 06.30.2011

Sperm whales speak in distinct regional dialects that appear closely linked to different "cultural groups," a Canadian researcher says. "The animals in the Caribbean sound different than the animals in the Pacific — even the Gulf of Mexico, which is right beside the Caribbean," said Shane Gero, a researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax. "In a lot of ways, that's very similar to us. We can identify someone from the U.K. versus Canada because they say 'lorry' and not 'truck.'" Sperm whales from many different regions meet in some "multicultural" areas of the ocean but tend to associate with whales that speak their own dialect, Gero told CBC's Quirks & Quarks in an interview that airs Saturday. "Their society really is divided based on culture," he said. "Animals that have different dialects behave differently. They feed on different things. They raise their babies differently." Gero has been studying sperm whales in the Caribbean for his PhD thesis. He and his collaborators in Canada and Scotland have been trying to decode sperm whale language by recording the voices of pairs of animals talking to one another and noting differences among the sounds they make. Female sperm whales spend all year in family groups in subtropical regions of the ocean, while males roam all over the world. When two whales encounter each other, they make patterns of clicks called codas. © CBC 2011

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 0: ; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 15353 - Posted: 05.21.2011

By Jennifer Viegas As Valentine's Day cards attest, humans value love and friendship that aren't just forged by family ties, common interests or sexual attraction. Now researchers have determined that such human-like friendships exist among at least five different types of animals. Prior studies determined that elephants, dolphins, some carnivores and certain non-human primates, such as chimpanzees, have the ability -- just as humans do -- to maintain enduring friendships in highly dynamic social environments. A new study, published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, adds bats to that list. Female wild Bechstein's bats prefer to literally hang out with certain friends while they also keep loose ties to the rest of their colony. Lead author Gerald Kerth told Discovery News that these bat buddies mirror human ones. Despite all of their "daily chaos, the bats are able to maintain long-term relationships," he said. "We do not work, play and live together with the same individuals all the time during the day and week," he explained. "But nevertheless, we are able to maintain long-term relationships with our friends and our family despite our often chaotic and highly dynamic social lives." Kerth, a professor at the University of Greifswald's Zoological Institute, and colleagues Nicolas Perony and Frank Schweitzer monitored colonies of the bats over a period of five years. Male bats of this species are solitary, but females roost together in bat boxes and tree cavities. They preferred certain companions over the years. © 2011 Discovery Communications, LLC.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 0:
Link ID: 14978 - Posted: 02.10.2011