Friday Faves December 5, 2014

What's the science behind your relationship with your cat?

catpplAre cat people just a little different? Do we relate to our pets a little differently too? Yes. I wrote on this subject for the Dodo many months ago, and was interviewed for this excellent piece by Gwynn Guilford that was released this week on Quartz (qz.com).

Animals can have positive emotions too

Much of the research on animal emotions focuses on fear and stress. But a new study examining the behavior of goats found that goats keep their tails forward and ears up when they are in a "positive state." We have to wait for the publication to come out to find out exactly what creates a positive state in goats!

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Birds "do what the locals do"

Hey, I saw presentations on this cool study this summer at animal behavior conferences (ISBE and ABS)! Using different populations of temporarily-housed wild birds, scientists trained some birds to open a puzzle feeder one way (by sliding a door in one direction) and other birds to open in by sliding the door in the opposite direction.

When the birds were set free, the other birds in the local population learned to solve the problem the same way as their trained counterparts...and the effects were still there a year later. Very cool. If you can get past Nature's paywall, the original article is here.

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