Essential Reads

Why You Were Born to Gossip

According to one theory, everything we say takes the form of gossip.

Is Sadomasochism a Uniquely Human Form of Sexuality?

Kinky sex is common in animals, but do they ever find pleasure in pain?

Are Humans Unique?

Are there criteria that distinguish humans from other species?

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

Dogs understand that smile or scowl on your face.

Recent Posts on Animal Behavior

The Two Serial Killers in My Life

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on October 19, 2011 in Animals and Us
I have known two serial killers. Derek Anderson was one of my students. He killed his father, his mother, his brother and the family dog. The other one is my cat....

Which Came First, the Chicken or the Dinosaur? Think Again

By Emily Smith Beitiks on October 19, 2011 in Genetic Crossroads
Paleontologist John Horner wants to create a living dinosaur by “reverse evolving” the chicken.

Why the Caged Bird Does Not Sing

By G.A. Bradshaw Ph.D., Ph.D. on October 16, 2011 in Bear in Mind
It is usual and customary these days to forewarn with disclaimers such as "discretion is advised." What typically follows are scenes of violence and its victims. Yet you will see no such cautions posted in "pet" stores or zoos, for one plain and simple reason: caged animals are socially acceptable and culturally normative.

The Right To Die

The notion that dying is a right seems nonsensical to argue: death is given to all of us equally without the need of anyone's sanction. The right to die well, on the other hand—well, that's another matter entirely.

Those Who Help Themselves

By Laura Betzig Ph.D. on October 16, 2011 in The Political Animal
As advertised, a month ago tomorrow, on September 17th, the rabble moved into Wall Street. People sleeping in cardboard boxes and tents occupied a space formerly known as Liberty Plaza Park.

Why a Parent Duct Tapes a Child to a Wall

By Michael Ungar Ph.D. on October 16, 2011 in Nurturing Resilience
Parents abuse their children for many reasons. Here are a few explanations for the horrific behaviors we’ve seen in the news.

Word Ladders Meet Anagrams

By Marcel Danesi Ph.D. on October 13, 2011 in Brain Workout
In a previous post, I dealt with word ladders, the puzzle genre invented by Lewis Carroll. As you might recall, you are given two words, with steps in between, as in a ladder.

Why Are Dogs So Frequently Called "Fido"?

A series of photographs of Abraham Lincoln's pet dog ultimately resulted in "Fido" becoming the generic name used to represent all dogs.

A Bone for the Wolf Dog

By Rosemary Joyce Ph.D. on October 10, 2011 in What Makes Us Human
A dog buried more than 26,000 years ago with a bone in its mouth suggests that early modern humans already saw these animals as special-- but how?

Babe, Lettuce, and Tomato: Dead Pig Walking

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 09, 2011 in Animal Emotions
Imagine walking into a restaurant and asking for a Babe, lettuce, and tomato sandwich on toast. I'm sure the incredulous waitperson would ask "You want a what?" Millions of intelligent and highly emotional pigs are brutally slaughtered for unneeded meals. Imagine if these pigs were dogs. No one has to eat a pig and it's easy to stop.

Does Dolphin Therapy Work?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on October 09, 2011 in Animals and Us
Does swimming with dolphins help children with autism?

Jobsian Evolution: The Cultural Rewiring and "Appleing" of Our Brain

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 06, 2011 in Animal Emotions
It's possible Steve Jobs had a much more significant influence on our species that anyone ever imagined. Have our brains been rewired ("Appled") by technology? Is there non-random mating among techies? Is "Jobsian evolution" a real phenomenon. Will there be more ibrains in the future? Researchers and sci-fi fanatics will have a field day with these questions.

Compulsive Choices in Addiction?

By Adi Jaffe Ph.D. on October 02, 2011 in All About Addiction
Does the fact that our brain makes choices all the time preclude some from being compulsive? Addiction seems to suggest the answer is no.

Can You Have Too Many Friends?

By Susan K Perry Ph.D. on October 01, 2011 in Creating in Flow
Why can't we manage more than 150 real friends at a time?

Redirected Aggression: Retaliation and the TSA

By Catherine Salmon Ph.D. on September 29, 2011 in Ape Girl
How often are TSA “pat-downs” about redirected aggression and retaliation rather than air safety and will it cause more payback down the line?

Have Monkeys Typed Shakespeare?

By Ian Stewart on September 29, 2011 in Math's Eye View
The Infinite Monkey Theorem says that random typing will eventually produce the complete works of William Shakespeare. Have virtual monkeys operating in the cloud now succeeded?

Linguistic Make-Over: 'And' Versus 'But'

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on September 28, 2011 in The Dolphin Divide
Can word choice block our messages? Good communicators know that words matter -- as do the associations they trigger -- and even the little ones can make a difference.

Sexy Bees and Their Dream Houses

By Susan K Perry Ph.D. on September 28, 2011 in Creating in Flow
There's probably nothing more fascinating than human sex, but how other species do it is pretty compelling too.

Pet the Lizard

By Rick Hanson Ph.D. on September 27, 2011 in Your Wise Brain
The brain is highly integrated, so three key functions--avoiding, approaching, and attaching-- are accomplished by all parts of the brain working together. Nonetheless, each function is particularly served by the region of the brain that first evolved to handle it. This fact has significant implications.

The Bodily Origins of Song Structure

By Jeanette Bicknell Ph.D. on September 27, 2011 in Why Music Moves Us
If songs across the globe and from a variety of cultures tend to have certain things in common, why might this be so? Recently a group of researchers has put forth an intriguing hypothesis about the origins of song structure, and they have come up with an ingenious way to test it.

Protecting Chimpanzees from Further Abuse

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 26, 2011 in Animal Emotions
A leading scientific magazine, Scientific American, rightfully calls for a ban on invasive research. As time goes on support for ending the use of chimpanzees in invasive research is growing. Let's keep the pressure on to make this a reality. And let's also remember the millions of other animals who are inadequately protected from invasive research.

Hard-Wired for Perception -- of Whom? The Cross-Species Dialogue

By Pat Shipman Ph.D. on September 24, 2011 in The Animal Connection
Did dogs domesticate US or did we domesticate THEM?