Speciesism, Bad Zoos, Fish Personality, and Clever Reptiles

In the past weeks there's been significant news about animals. A new documentary called "Speciesism: The Movie" clearly dispels myths about human superiority and shows how confused we are about our relationships with other animals, and we've also learned that British zoos don't meet welfare standards, fish have personalities, and coldblooded does not mean stupid.

Aging Animals: Their Behavior, Social Roles, and Lives

Aging and elderly animals are important in many social systems, including human households, but their role in influencing the behavior of others is often ignored. A recent photo essay about "the beauty and dignity of elder animals" and a novel and seminal book called "The Social Behavior of Older Animals" are very useful guides to what we know and what needs to be done.

Why Dogs Hump and Rupert Sheldrake's Morphogenic Fields

Theories about what causes different behavior patterns need more open discussions and study. For example, I would like to see Rupert Sheldrake's ideas and theories about morphic fields revisited because while they are considered to be "radical" we must remember that many causal explanations about why nonhuman and human animals do what they do are constantly being revised.

Frankenstein's Cat: Biotechnology, Strange Creatures, and Us

What does genetically engineering animals such as producing glowing fish and establishing frozen zoos really mean? A book called "Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts" by Emily Anthes made me think deeply about this and other questions and as the field of anthrozoology—the study of human-animal interactions—grows, so too should our concerns.

Kiss a Pig Contests, Cheap Laughs, and Bullying

Kiss a pig contests used by schools to raise money demean everyone involved, the human kissers and the pigs. Students should be to taught to extend kindness to everyone, including other animals. With so many innovative and humane ways to motivate kids, schools are failing themselves and their students by promoting animal exploitation and bullying for cheap laughs.

Disabled Whale Missing Two Fins Cared for by Family

A heartwarming story that shows that wild animals display compassion and empathy for others and will care for them when they need help.

The Dog's Tail Tale: Do They Know What Others are Feeling?

The way in which dogs wag their tail tells us how they're feeling. A wag to the right indicates a positive emotion and a wag to the left indicates a negative emotion. But, what do dogs themselves make of seeing an image of a dog wag his or her tail to the right or to the left? Is it a form of communication? One researcher thinks it's not. I'm not so sure it isn't.

Ethics in Field Research: Are We Really that Noninvasive?

A new book considers the nature of fieldwork and what we really do and know as a result of this sort of research. It is a must read for practicing fieldworkers regardless of the species in which they're interested and for students who plan a career doing this sort of research. There's no doubt the discussions in this book will make for more ethical and better studies.

The Politics of Species: Reshaping Relations With Animals

A new interdisciplinary book called "The Politics of Species: Reshaping our Relationships with Other Animals" contains diverse essays about animals and us. It is a major contribution to the growing field of anthrozoology, the study of human-animal interactions, and will help to change the ways in which people view and interact with other animals.

Should Animals Be Used for Scientific or Commercial Testing?

Our relationships with other animals are a very messy and confusing affair. Some people say they love animals and then intentionally harm them. I always say I'm glad they don't love me. A new website that presents both sides of the daunting and vexing question, "Should Animals Be Used for Scientific or Commercial testing?" is now online and is well worth visiting.

Suicidal Sex: Male Marsupial Mice Die After Endurance Mating

Male marsupial mice (who aren't really mice) put everything they have into sperm production by copulating for up to twelve hours at a time and then dying. This "suicidal sex" seems to be driven by competition for females.

"RoboRoach" is Bad News in So Many Ways

Cyborg cockroaches who can be controlled by smartphones teach many wrong lessons including that they encourage bad citizen science and utterly inhumane education. There is nothing at all good or right about them. They also suggest that neuroscience "research" is something you can do from your home or wherever you may be. What a misguided message this is.

Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The State of Animals

A new book on the state of the animals reveals who they really are. In "Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation" I offer select essays that showcase the cognitive abilities of other animals as well as their empathy, compassion, grief, humor, joy, and love. We can learn so much from them.

Shadow and Cesar Millan: An Update on the Strung Up Husky

It's no surprise that Shadow suffered long-term trauma as a result of being strung up. However, there is a happy ending for this abused husky because the woman who had originally rescued him was able to get him back and help him recover. Shadow is a very lucky dog. Others are not as fortunate.

The Ghosts in Our Machine: Award-Winning Documentary in USA

This top ten documentary challenges common cultural practices about how we annually brutally mistreat billions upon billions of animals who are caught in the web of so-called "civilized society" as if they don't care about what happens to them. The fact is they do care about how they're treated and we should too. It's time to stop the heinous war with animals.

Dogs Are People, Too: They Love Us and Miss Us fMRI's Say

Noninvasive neuroimaging of our best friend's brains shows similarities to ours. Data show they love us and miss us and that we're not being overly sentimental or anthropomorphic when we say this. The work of Emory University's Gregory Berns and his colleagues is a true paradigm shift in how we study the brains of nonhuman animals and learn about what they feel.

The Fairness Instinct: Science, Human Nature, and Sociality

In "The Fairness Instinct" biologist L. Sun argues, using research from the biological and social sciences and humanities, that fairness is a DNA-based emotion rather than a product of ideology or convention. In this respect, science can contribute much more to the everlasting issue of fairness.

Do Animals Play Just for Fun? Watch this Dog

This video of a Siberian husky playing by himself or herself is a dataset in and of itself. Animals play for various reasons including because it's fun and feels good, during which time they also are otherwise benefiting from the activity.

Animal Emotions Book Banned in Texas

My book "The Smile of a Dolphin" is now banned in certain libraries and schools in the Lone Star state, but I'm not sure why. There are evolutionary arguments about animal emotions, there are some essays on sexual behavior, and there is a picture of a whale's penis but why in the world would the book be banned? There's much food for thought for anthrozoologists.

Animal Consciousness Matters: Dawkins' Dangerous Idea Redux

Marian Dawkins claims we need to focus on what animals can do for us to get people to care about them - a case of arrogant anthropocentrism - rather than the fact that they are conscious beings. Going against what numerous outstanding scientists now accept as a fact, she claims we don't know enough about animal consciousness to use it on their behalf. She is clearly wrong.

Do Elephants Weep as an Emotional Response?

We are not 100% certain solid scientific research supports the view that elephants and other nonhuman animals weep as part of an emotional response. Rather than dismiss this possibility as merely storytelling, we need to study it in more detail. Many surprises have been discovered in the emotional lives of animals including laughing rats and empathic chickens.

Animal Sentience is Not Science Fiction: Recent Literature

Recent essays on animal sentience are essential reads for a wide audience. For the few skeptics who remain these papers should convince you that detailed scientific data show that a wide range of animals are sentient beings, and for those who know this to be the case, these essays provide wonderful resources. Animal sentience is a fact, not science fiction.

Research Data: Should We Ignore Studies on Abused Animals?

Should we use data from behavioral studies in which animals are mistreated? People disagree and I feel this question will be of interest to readers of Psychology Today. My own take is that it is acceptable to use these sorts of existing data with some very strong restrictions especially for future research. And, the data must be used for the animals' benefit.

Designer Dogs Costa Rica Style: Unwanted but Unique Breeds

Despite the fact that millions of dogs each year are "put to sleep" because no one wants them, many people still choose to buy purebreds from breeders themselves or from pet stores. I just learned of a brilliant program in Costa Rica that is well worth sharing. In an inspirational video you'll see how a shelter is finding homes for unwanted but new breeds of mutts.

Divided Brains: Fascinating Facts about Brain Asymmetries

"Divided Brains" brings together vast amounts of research on asymmetry (lateralization) of brain function in many different species. Lateralization refers to structural and functional differences between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This extremely important book offers many surprising discoveries including research on horses and dogs and their well being.

Apes Swim and Birds Know Speed Limits

From chimpanzees who do the breaststroke to birds who observe speed limits, animals are not always who we imagine them to be.

Anthropogenic Brain-Changing: Some Significant Human Effects

Humans are changing animal habitats and brains. Two species of small mammals show larger brains in urban when compared to rural environs. We still don't know if individuals with larger brains are better learners or show increased behavioral flexibility related to their ability to survive in altered habitats, but we do know our effects are wide-ranging and significant.

Monogamy: Researchers Disagree on Why Mate Fidelity Evolved

In two recent comprehensive studies, researchers disagree on why monogamy evolved in nonhuman mammals, and some wonder if humans really are monogamous at all. One group argues that monogamy evolved because of infant killing (infanticide), whereas the other concludes that monogamy evolved when females live far apart and males can't mate with more than one female.

Giraffes: Long-Necked Icons Who May Soon be Long Gone

A new book captures the magnificence of the world's tallest animal. Replete with outstanding pictures "Giraffe Reflections" contains historical accounts of these long-legged and long-necked icons, scientific facts, observations of new behavior patterns, and wonderful stories. It reveals many valuable lessons about who these skyscraping beings are and why we must save them.

Do Animals Typically Think Like Autistic Savants?

Temple Grandin's claim that other animals typically behave as autistic savants is unsupported by scientific evidence about how their brains work and their behavior. As one expert in animal behavior and neurobiology notes, "You may find some animals are autistic but it's not characteristic of animals in general." My own field observations support this view.