Animal Behavior Essential Reads

How Long Will Your Dog Live?

New data shows that a dog's size has a greater influence on its life expectancy then we had previously believed.

Elephants Rescue Baby Who Lies Down on a Busy Highway

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 27, 2015 in Animal Emotions
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this video of a herd of elephants rescuing a young herd member who decides for some reason to lie down on a busy highway in Kruger National Park in South Africa is well worth numerous words and the two plus minutes it'll take to watch it. Other animals can teach us valuable lessons about caring, compassion, and empathy.

Empathic Rats Save Drowning Pals Rather than Eat Chocolate

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 13, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Research once again shows rats display empathy so why do we continue to torture them in all sorts of invasive research? In the latest study rats were found to save other rats from drowning rather than eat chocolate and were "more likely to help when they’ve had an unpleasant swimming experience of their own, adding to growing evidence that the rodents feel empathy."

Do Dogs Have Empathy for Human Stress and Discomfort?

Dogs and humans seem to respond in the same way when they hear the crying sounds of the distressed baby.

Makings of a Child

What is a father? How does assisted reproduction reshape how we think of fathers and mothers, and what are the consequences for children's genetic, epigenetic and cultural legacies?

Captive Killer Whales Die Much Younger than Wild Orcas

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 29, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new study shows captive killer whales don't live as long as wild relatives. The researchers show that "62 to 81 percent of wild female killer whales live at least 15 years. In contrast, only 27 percent of the now-dead females in the captive study survived that long. Roughly half of the still-living captive female whales are at least 15 years old."

Does Emotional Attachment to an Owner Change in Older Dogs?

Although older dogs may appear to be more placid and less emotionally responsive, physiological measures show that this is not the case. They may actually be reacting to stress to a greater degree than they did when they were younger.

Judge Recognizes Two Chimpanzees as Legal Persons: A First

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 20, 2015 in Animal Emotions
According to the Nonhuman Rights Project, "For the first time in history a judge has granted an order to show cause and writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a nonhuman animal…in a case brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project … Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe issued an order to show cause and writ of habeas corpus on behalf of two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo.

Ivan Denisovich vs Ants

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn admitted that Russians were occasionally like insects. But he didn't like it.

Putting Music to the Words

By David Ludden Ph.D. on April 13, 2015 in Talking Apes
In animal communication systems, you can have either syntax or semantics. Human language, however, integrates the two. As a result, our range of expression is almost limitless.

What's in a Name? A Lot More Than You Think.

What are the little things in your room and your life telling you?

Chimpanzees and Cheesecake

By David Ludden Ph.D. on April 07, 2015 in Talking Apes
Chimpanzees use sound symbols to communicate about food.

The Modern Savage: A New Book Questions Why We Eat Animals

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 01, 2015 in Animal Emotions
James McWilliams' book "The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals" is a very thoughtful work about our meal plans where he covers the ecological and ethical reasons for not eating other animals and shows that labels such as "cage free," "free range," and "humanely raised" are not necessarily sound and ethical. There's a good life beyond beef and after meat.

The Emotional Lives of Rats: Rats Read Pain in Others' Faces

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 01, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new study shows that rats are able to read the pain that other rats are suffering. When are those people who are responsible for writing legislation to protect animals from invasive and abusive research going to use the scientific information that is readily available to protect them from unnecessary harm, pain, and death? The federal Animal Welfare Act is lame.

Peter Singer Argues for "Effective Altruism" in His New Book

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on March 25, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Renowned philosopher Peter Singer's new book called "The Most Good You Can Do" is a very thoughtful discussion about charitable giving. Whether you agree or disagree with Professor Singer's arguments I guarantee they will make you think deeply about what you do with your money and if your donations really do the most good you can do. This book also left me hopeful.

Do Dog People and Cat People Differ in Terms of Dominance?

New data suggest that dog people and cat people are selecting their preferred pet because it complements their own personality.

Scalding Live Chickens Is an Accepted Brutal Business Model

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on March 18, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Nicholas Kristof's NYTimes essay "To Kill a Chicken" is a must read. It begins: "IF you torture a single chicken and are caught, you’re likely to be arrested. If you scald thousands of chickens alive, you’re an industrialist who will be lauded for your acumen." I leave it to you to decide whether to read it, but be assured that when you eat chicken you're eating pain.

A Landmark Case for the Legal Rights of Dogs?

Legal precedents establishing the rights of dogs under the law may have been set when, for the first time, a dog charged with murdering a cat was tried in front of a judge and jury.

Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker: Misinformation & Abuse

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on March 11, 2015 in Animal Emotions
According to Dr. Chris Palmer's book called "Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker," the state of wildlife filmmaking worsens every year. He argues it’s time for wildlife filmmaking to move in a more ethical direction. Broadcasters such Animal Planet, Discovery, National Geographic, and the History Channel must do better. And viewers can play a role in making this happen.

Why We Need to Make Romantic Gestures

With Valentine's Day behind us many of us forget the importance of daily romantic gestures that can enhance our relationships and bring us closer to our partners.

Why You Were Born to Gossip

By David Ludden Ph.D. on February 27, 2015 in Talking Apes
Since our brains are finely tuned for coordinating our relationships with others, it’s not surprising that language is structured to convey social information.

Is Sadomasochism a Uniquely Human Form of Sexuality?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Animals and Us
From an evolutionary point of view, the enjoyment of pain would seem to be maladaptive. Is there an animal analog of finding sexual satisfaction in being whipped, poked with needles, or having hot wax dripped on your skin?

Are Humans Unique?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on February 18, 2015 in The Human Beast
The argument for human uniqueness is of mostly historical interest. As we gained more understanding of animal behavior, we learned that their psychology has more in common with us than had been imagined previously.

Can Dogs Recognize Emotions Just by Looking at a Human Face?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on February 17, 2015 in Canine Corner
New data shows that dogs need only a glimpse of your mouth or your eyes to determine whether you are happy or angry.

It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It

By David Ludden Ph.D. on January 30, 2015 in Talking Apes
Most of our daily conversations are about building and maintaining social relationships, and the actual content of those conversations is usually unimportant.

Cooperative Feather Play Between an Orca and a Dolphin

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 28, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Read about a playful interaction between Skana, who inspired Greenpeace, and her dolphin friend.

Roots of Dogs Found in Wolf Cooperation

By Mark Derr on January 25, 2015 in Dog's Best Friend
Scientists look at the wolf and see dog.

"Food Animals" Brutalized at Federally Funded "Meat Lab"

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 20, 2015 in Animal Emotions
An essay in the New York Times by Michael Moss shows that animals at Nebraska's U.S. Meat Animal Research Center are engineered, harmed, and killed -- some left to die on their own -- in their reprehensible quest for profit. If you're a doubter and think this is some "radical hype" this essay will show you just how brutal "food animals" are treated in the name of science.

If We Could Talk to the Animals

By David Ludden Ph.D. on January 16, 2015 in Talking Apes
Animal communication systems aren’t just simple languages, as there are fundamental differences between the ways that animals and humans communicate.