Sunday, June 21, 2009

The power of the pussycat

NY Cat remembered... read more

Snakes treating depression

Snakes are being recruited as animal "therapists" by the NHS to treat depression.
A London clinic is the first to use reptiles to help patients overcome low self-worth and "communication issues". More

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dogs may look guilty but they aren't

Most owners know that guilty look on their dog's face. Usually it's when we arrive home and find the cushion shredded or the garden dug up. We attribute this to the dog knowing it has done wrong and feeling guilty.

New research shows this is not the case. Dog owners were either told their dog had stolen a biscuit or had not. In other words, the owners did not know if their dogs were truly guilty or not.
Result - the only dogs who showed guilty looks were the ones whose owners thought their dog was guilty.
This means dogs put on that look just for the owner.

Dr Jo says "the guilty look is probably an appeasement behaviour, to deflect the owner's emotions from the dog. The dog has learned to read the owner's behaviour and has learnt to attempt to appease us. We interpret that as guilt.
This does not mean that dogs are absent of any emotions. Far from it. They feel and express many emotions. This syudy shows, however, that humans cannot interpret these correctly. Lots of learning to do!"

Original research abstract
BBC story

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How long is a piece of string: don't ask a cat

Cats never get bored of chasing a piece of string. And the answer to that seems to be that they cannot link cause and effect. When one piece of string has a treat attached and another doesn't, they still paw at each one, unable to focus on the one with a reward.

Original abstract

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spitting is not rude in dolphin society

Spitting in public isn't rude in snubfin dolphin society—it's expected.
The rare marine mammals hunt together by chasing fish to the surface and then "spitting" water at them to herd them for the kill, researchers with the conservation nonprofit WWF recently discovered. Read more

National Geographic news

Monday, June 1, 2009

Animal make news 3 times more often...

than they did 30 years ago. Researchers have found that humans are moving away from a tendency to see animals as creatures dominated by society. Instead, people now see animals more frequently as part of a more "pure" or "natural" world that needs protection.