Rats exploring a new environment do better with a buddy. Scientists measured rats second exploration of a novel space either alone or with another rat. Rats who had a buddy on that second trial were more exploratory, and the effect lasted through a third solo trial. Read more!
Connecting technology, movement and emotion to study animals
Scientists are using accelerometers on various animals - from cockroaches to elephants - and correlating their movements with positive or negative experiences. So far they have found significant differences in how animals move their bodies during positive or negative states. This potentially gives us new, non-invasive tools for studying animal emotions! So cool! Now tell me, what does my Fitbit say about my mental state?
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!