Animal Behavior Essential Reads

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.

Rats Like Tickling: Why Is the Animal Welfare Act So Lame?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 14, 2015 in Animal Emotions
New research shows the benefits of tickling rats before rather than after they are subjected to pain, that pigs display empathy, and much more. We've known that rats, mice, and many other animals display empathy and are highly emotional and sentient beings, so why does invasive research continue and why does the federal Animal Welfare Act ignore research on these animals?

In the Human Brain, Dogs and Children Are Equally Lovable

MRI data explores how human mothers respond to their own children and to their family dog. The similarities are remarkable.

I'm Glad I'm Not Sarah Palin's Dog: Dogs Aren't Stools

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 07, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Sarah Palin: "Chill. At least Trig didn't eat the dog." Rather than making heartless comments about her son, Trig, using their family dog, Jill, as a stepping stool, Ms. Palin could have provided valuable lessons in humane education concerning the importance of respect for other animals.

A Defense of Jealousy

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on December 23, 2014 in This Is America
In Jealousy, Peter Toohey provides a charming and instructive survey of a much maligned emotion. He examines jealousy in many of its guises, including sexual jealousy, the Oedipus Complex, and sibling rivalry. Aware that it can be an ugly emotion, he argues that jealousy is an evolutionary adaptation that "can be a beautiful thing."

Did Pope Francis Open the Pearly Gates to Other Animals?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 20, 2014 in Animal Emotions
As noted in a wide array of press about Pope Francis' comments about animals and the afterlife, the pearly gates may be open to other animals. While it remains unclear as to how open they really are and how the Pope meant his comments to be interpreted and implemented, more open and much needed discussion is now on the table.

Clarify Three Misunderstandings about Acupuncture

In spite of increasing acceptance and varied use of acupuncture for treating pain and other ailments in the United States, there are still at least three misunderstandings about the practice and its mechanisms, which are typically found in some news reports about acupuncture (Sun, 2014a). Clarifying the misunderstandings also has implications for psychology.

Insufficient Childhood Sleep And Teenage Overweight

By Dennis Rosen M.D. on December 12, 2014 in Sleeping Angels
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics on December 11th 2014 found a strong connection between insufficient sleep in early childhood and overweight in adolescence.

Pope Francis Says That All Dogs Go to Heaven

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on December 10, 2014 in Canine Corner
Pope Francis contradicts the long standing Catholic Church catechism by claiming that animals have souls and can enter Paradise.

A Gene for Language?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on December 10, 2014 in Talking Apes
Recursion is one of the key characteristics distinguishing human languages from animal communication systems. But a genetic mutation that turned human brains into recursion machines is an unlikely explanation for how language evolved.

How Did Nature Create Involved Human Fathers?

By Peter B. Gray Ph.D. on December 04, 2014 in The Evolving Father
By what processes are human fathers fashioned? Chance mutations? Sophisticated "evo-devo" processes modeled by Andreas Wagner in his new book, "Arrival of the Fittest"? By developmental plasticity and the "Baldwin effect"? Let's think about this.

Into the Virtual Wild

Lions, rhinos, giraffes--all the big mammals of the African savanna mesmerize the imagination, even as humans drive them into extinction. But technology might help children connect virtually, while teaching about animal conservation and habitat protection. A "wild animal app" tries to do just that.

Do Dogs Grieve Over a Lost Loved One?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on November 18, 2014 in Canine Corner
Images of dogs mourning over the death of someone dear to them are common in fine art and in photos on the Internet. Although behavioral scientists agree that these dogs are showing great sorrow and sadness they debate as to whether the emotion the dogs are feeling is really grief.

SeaWorld Exposed: Behavioral Profiles of Captive Orcas

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on November 05, 2014 in Animal Emotions
The information in this file of behavior profiles of captive orcas released by SeaWorld needs to be analyzed and is perfect for theses. I want to inform a wide public about these data as they are a goldmine for studying the behavioral profiles of captive orcas, many of whom are extremely aggressive and understandably go crazy in captivity. It's a study in "orcazoology."

Is the Next Step in Canine Evolution Cyber-Enhanced Dogs?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on November 05, 2014 in Canine Corner
A smart phone app may allow you to control and communicate with your computer enhanced dog.

Take a Walk on the Rewild Side

By Lybi Ma on November 05, 2014 in Brainstorm
Animal behaviorist Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., wants to start a meme that will save the animals, as well as the world.

Mind Over Meat

By Juliana Breines Ph.D. on October 31, 2014 in In Love and War
How do we reconcile our love for animals with our desire to eat them?

When Did You Stop Kicking, Hitting Your Spouse, Dog, Child?

By Mark Derr on October 22, 2014 in Dog's Best Friend
To train a dog well, it is important to find out what motivates her. Katie would rather play tennis ball than eat.

Why We're All Overwhelmed Today

By Richard E. Cytowic M.D. on October 21, 2014 in The Fallible Mind
Prolonged and repetitive exposure to devices changes our behavior and even the way we think. The result is counterproductive interruptions and flitting from one task to another. Attention is like a spotlight: what lies outside it is in our cognitive blind spot.

A Strange Place: Dissecting the Neuroscience Nobel Prize

By Gabriel C. S. Gavin on October 06, 2014 in Wiring the Mind
Explaining the science behind today's Nobel Prize.

Chimpanzees: Former Pets or Performers Suffer For Years

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 24, 2014 in Animal Emotions
A recent study shows that chimpanzees who are reared in captivity and who lacked contact with other chimpanzees behave abnormally for years after being pets or performers. I hope this study receives a lot of attention from people working on a wide range of animals. We owe it to the animals to do the best we can so that they can live the best lives possible in our care.

Is That a Dog in Your Bed?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on September 23, 2014 in Canine Corner
Sleeping with your dog might have some unexpected problems, but there are solutions.