Friday Faves January 29, 2016

Exploring empathy in animals

oxyA nice little review of new study about voles exhibiting empathic behaviors toward one another. It features a squirrel studying alum from my lab, Stephanie Preston! I would add that some of the willingness to look at empathic behaviors in other animals is not neccessarily due to a shift away from abhorring anthropomorphism, but a shift away from anthropocentrism!

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Domestic cats: The story has a twist

bengalRecent work suggests that although all current domestic cats in China are descendants of the African wildcat (Felis sylvestris), the first cat species to be domesticated there was the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). This suggests multiple cat domestication events, and also indicates that other cat species (such as the leopard cat) have some flexibility in tolerance toward humans and possible proclivities toward domestication. (Side note: Bengal cats are a hybrid of the domestic cat and the leopard cat). A summary of the paper here.

Crows: Known for "Goosing"

crowCrows are definitely one of my favorite animals. A recent video shows crows pulling a cat's tail (Note: I've seen them do the same thing to the squirrels I study!). Why? Because tail-pulling may distract a competitor long enough for a crow to swoop in and steal their food!



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