Monthly Archives: October 2014

With only one or two games left in the World Series, there are many baseball fans out there right now who aren't changing their shirts, or who are wearing certain colors every day, or are maybe skipping that shave...in the hopes of bringing their favorite team to a win. I'm more than a little excited because my team is in the running. But can any of us really help our team win through our behaviors?

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Animals experience the "Uncanny Valley"

The uncanny valley is that strange feeling you experience when you see something that is almost, but not quite, human-like, such as animation in a film or video game, or robotic movements that mimic our own. You may even experience this feeling when you see other primates. Some folks have suggested that "the valley"  may be what caused us to kill off Neanderthals (although I'm still looking for a more reputable source on this topic)!

Long story short, turns out that a recent study suggests that monkeys are also disturbed by almost life-like images of other monkeys. Marc Bekoff gives some nice explanations for why animals might be hardwired to look for stimuli that match expectations of what other members of their species should look or act like (or as another scientist points out, these likenesses may not be visual at all, but could be sound or olfactory-based).  Read it all here!

What does this mean for robo-squirrel?

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Once again, there is so much squirrel activity around the globe!

 Power outages

Squirrels shut off the power to over a thousand folks in Toledo, and left people with nine hours of no power in Luverne and Rutledge, Alabama. A squirrel was electrocuted and caused an “electrical smell” in Grand Haven, Minnesota, shutting off power at the local post office.

Finally, a squirrel in Rancho Cordova in California caused a fuse to blow that burst a gas line, causing not only a power outage but also a school cancellation. “The squirrel did not survive.”

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Why is there an alpaca in my grocery store?

What is the deal with emotional support animals? For the record, they are not the same thing as a service animal - but there's a lot of confusion about what is allowed and what isn't - and it's easy to fake a letter. Patricia Marx goes undercover and explores what happens when you bring a "therapy turtle" to a museum. Read here!

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Cats and urination outside of the litterbox.

Cat urination outside the litterbox can damage relationships and floors. Photo via InspectAPedia.
Cat urination outside the litterbox can damage relationships and floors. Photo via InspectAPedia.

Urination outside the litterbox is one of the most common behavioral reasons cats are abandoned and euthanized. Litterbox avoidance is a frustrating problem to live with, and damages property and the bond between an owner and their cat. While owners often attribute this behavior to a complex “revenge” plot by the cat (“he’s mad at me for x, y or z”), urination outside the box is typically caused by one of three things: something about the box the cat doesn’t like, a medical problem, or stress.

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Baby fish babbling

"Babbling" is the first stage of language development in humans in which infants make sounds that are considered pre-linguistic and practice for future chatting. Babbling has been found in several other animal species (including bats, monkeys and parrots), and now maybe in fish? Turns out that baby snapper (larvae) make "knocking" sounds that adults also use, which function to keep fish together in their schools. Read more here.

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