Anthropomorphism impedes our understanding of animal behavior
This fascinating study had 4 and 5 year old children read one of two versions of a story about animals - one with anthropomorphism, and one that used factual language. Results suggested that children who read the story where animals were depicted with human-like traits were more likely to assign human psychological, but not physical, traits to animals later. The Thoughtful Animal at Scientific American tells us more about it here.
Scent as enrichment for big cats
As humans, we are so visual that we sometimes forget that other animals rely heavily on other senses. I loved this interview with Toronga zoo worker, Louise Ginman, on how they use scent as enrichment for the big cats there. They are highly attracted to colognes containing civetone, a synthetic ingredient with a similar chemical composition as civet musk. Perhaps it's worth trying some scent enrichment on your "tiny tiger" at home? Valerian and catnip are two popular ones, but you could try regular mint, or even let your cats sniff your tea. Read more here
Speaking of enrichment - DOGTV?
A television station for dogs - good enrichment or just turning our dogs into screen-zombies? I'm all for enrichment for pets, especially if they are home alone all day. But to be enriching, they have to respond to the type of enrichment (and ideally animals would have some variety and choices!).
Two of my favorite animals show their smarts
In the no surprise at all category this week, scientists find that we have been underestimating the intelligence of goats! They have long-term memory at how to solve a problem and performed equally on a problem solving task if they learned it alone or by observing other goats.
And tool-using (and making) New Caledonian crows performance on the water displacement task was similar to that of seven year old children. Not bad. Read more here