Damselfish can recognize members of their own species by their unique facial patterns, detectable to us only under ultraviolet light. The fish were tested under conditions where they were rewarded for swimming toward an image of a fish-face they had seen before over a novel image. They overwhelmingly picked familiar faces. Since fish swim in groups, it may benefit them to know their neighbors.
Also, the title of the article should be "Not just a human skill!" - as it is surprisingly not a human skill...
How parrots' social lives prep them to mimic humans
Have you ever wondered why parrots tend to copy what their humans say? It has to do with their backgrounds as social birds, where they even have their own "names." Learn about Disco, an amazing parakeet, who knows over 100 phrases, and can even beat-box.
We're not going to discuss "the dress" or the great llama chase of 2015 (where was I yesterday?) ...but there's plenty else to talk about!
False memory in bumblebees
In an experiment that might be called "confuse a bee," bees were trained on two different stimuli that indicated a reward (a yellow flower, or a black and white striped flower). After training, they were given three flowers to choose from: one yellow, one black and white striped, and one YELLOW striped - combining qualities from the test stimuli. Bees chose the flower most recently rewarded.
A few days later, the bees started to chose the yellow striped flower, suggesting their memory was getting fuzzy and they were hedging their bets for a treat! Read more here.
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!
Bees sleep more after hanging out with bees than they do after spending time alone - five hours more! It could be the flood of information they have to process after encounter so many of their colony members - the extra sleep may help with learning and memory. Read more here!
Feeding corticosterone (a stress hormone) to zebra finches had the opposite effect of what scientists expected - it made the birds MORE social, but those "friendships" were more fleeting than those exhibited by control birds, who spent more time with family and closer friends. Read more about the recently published study here.
What is the deal with emotional support animals? For the record, they are not the same thing as a service animal - but there's a lot of confusion about what is allowed and what isn't - and it's easy to fake a letter. Patricia Marx goes undercover and explores what happens when you bring a "therapy turtle" to a museum. Read here!