Three new marsupial species discovered in Australia; have sex until they disintegrate
It's gotta be tough being a male antechinus; you have sex until your body falls apart and then you die from stress while still desperately seeking one last "romp." It seems like a bad idea, but I guess as long as you get your sperm passed along before you pass, it will get your genes out into the world and your offspring will likely follow the same lifestyle. I'd like to know what the lady antechinus are up to. Read more here.
Citizen Science - Sea Lion Identification
When I hear about projects that get the general public interested in - and actually DOING - science, I get excited. Scientists in Western Australia are interested in how crowd-sourced photos of sea lion snouts can help them reliably identify individuals by their unique whisker patterns. Booyah!
Cats are more active before feeding time
If you have a cat, you may already know this - I even made a movie about my cat's obsessive circling around the house before mealtime:
Scientists have now found EVIDENCE that cats are more active by having them wear activity monitors and manipulating the number of times a day while holding the total amount of food constant! Feeding cats multiple, small meals a day increases their active time and may be a good strategy for preventing obesity (Personally, I also like food puzzles for cats!).
In the animal kingdom, if you are vulnerable, you have a few options. Two of them: hang out with others (safety in numbers) OR BE STINKY! Being smelly was favored by nocturnal animals that need protection from predators. What's my excuse? Read about the study here.
Side note: One of the authors is named "Stank"owich.
Nice write up of a study that found that albino rats would help struggling rats (by freeing them from a cell they were trapped in) of a different strain, but only if they'd been socialized with them; they will free rats of the same strain, regardless if they are a familiar or a stranger.
Ever wondered what happens in a squirrel nest? I think about it a lot! I'd like to know if there are beer cans and chocolate bars in there, and I'd love to take a peek and squee at some baby squirrels. But I also think about squirrels in their dreys at the top of barren trees, whenever the wind gets crazy here. Are squirrels getting blown out of trees? Turns out NO - those nests are built to last! Malcolm Campbell digs deep and tells us all about it here!
Okay, first of all, leave it to youtube. Look for cats singing “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls and you’ll find this bizarre video:
Now, time to get serious. I help a lot of people who are experiencing behavior problems with their cats – and a lot of those cases have to do with litterbox avoidance. There are several reasons that cats may stop using the litterbox – including medical problems, an undesirable litterbox location, substrate dislike, or even stress. Solving the problem often requires several different approaches, including modifications to the litterbox and the owner’s behavior. Sometimes the problems are obvious – like a dirty litterbox, or a box that is hard to access. Other times the cause is more subtle.
But one important question – can you assume your cat likes the litterbox just because she uses it consistently?
Paedomorphic Facial Expressions Give Dogs a Selective Advantage
It's no big surprise that we prefer animals with baby-like features: that is what CUTE is all about! Konrad Lorenz called it "baby schema" (Kindchenschema). This study used adoption from a shelter as a proxy for active selection (hmmm...does preference equal evolution?) and looked at how often dogs "raised their eyebrows", which the authors claimed made the dogs look more "paedomorphic" (juvenile). Two dogs were removed from the study because they took too long to get adopted (another hmmm...), and the results suggested that adoption rates for the remaining 27 dogs was related to how often they raised their eyebrows; more eyebrow raises = faster adoption. Read it for yourself here, yay OPEN ACCESS!
I hate to report on research before it’s been written up and peer reviewed, but since “the cat has been let out of the bag” on this one via Reddit and several media outlets, I feel I have to comment on what I’m seeing and reading in the headlines (already: "Study: Your cat hates you and "Sorry, your cat hates you").
Veterinarian Daniel Mills (the same person who brought us the “cats hate petting” study) is currently leading a study to examine the relationship between cats and their owners, or as he states at (:30) “Whether cats are making an emotional commitment” to their owners. You can watch the news clip here:
Every Friday, some of my favorite news stories of the previous week!
Making dog farts less stinky
It felt like waiting an eternity, but Julie Hecht of Dog Spies has returned with Dog Farts Part 2! This time around, hard evidence on reducing stinkiness of dog farts. You know they say you study your own pathology...
Every Friday (more or less), sharing some of my favorite news stories of the week!
What are dog farts made of?
Wherein scientists put fart suits on dogs in order to determine the chemical composition and stinkiness of dog farts. What I'd like to know is: what makes some dogs more "fart-prone" in the first place? How did they choose subjects for the study? ("Wanted: Highly Flatulent Dogs")? Read all about it here: