Chimpanzees Apply Insects to Heal WoundsResearchers from Osnabrück University and the Ozouga Chimpanzee Project observed chimpanzees applying insects to their wounds. The team, led by Dr. Tobias Deschner and Prof. Dr. Simone Pika, investigated the behavior of a group of chimpanzees. The team aimed to record and observe the social relationships, hunting behavior, tool use, and cognitive and communicative skills of the animals.This is the first time that chimpanzees were observed to apply animal matter on open wounds. "Our observations provide the first evidence that chimpanzees regularly capture insects and apply them onto open wounds. We now aim to investigate the potential beneficial consequences of such a surprising behavior," said Dr. Deschner.The authors of the study who documented this behavior have suggested that the insects might have anti-inflammatory or antiseptic properties. Another proposed explanation for this behavior is that it could be part of the local chimpanzee culture.Image credit: Tobias Deschner/ Ozouga chimpanzee project#animals #behavior #chimpanzees #medicine #externalapplication #insects #research #animalbehavior
Kleptotrichy: Birds Steal Hair From Living MammalsTitmice and their closest bird kin engage in some weird behavior. All sneaky-like, these birds would land on unsuspecting mammals and then pluck out some hair from their targets. When Jeffrey Brawn and Henry Pollock once participated in a spring bird count in central Illinois, Brawn noticed a titmouse plucking out some hair from a sleeping raccoon. Surprisingly, the raccoon didn't wake up. Intrigued, Brawn decided to study the matter. As the study authors consulted literature, they only found 11 instances of the behavior. When they checked YouTube, however, they found dozens of examples. Some of these birds even pluck some hair out of mammals who are wide awake. The question is, why would these birds risk their lives? The authors note possible reasons. The first reason was the birds needed some insulation in their nests. The second was that the odor associated with the mammal could deter predators. Another possible reason could be the hair capable of repelling parasites, a threat to chick survival. The authors have called this behavior kleptotrichy, from the Greek words "klepto" and "trich", which mean "theft" and "hair", respectively. The paper, published in the journal Ecology, is titled, “What the pluck? Theft of mammal hair by birds is an overlooked but common behavior with fitness implications." It is available online. Learn more about the study over at Illinois News Bureau. (Image Credit: Texas Backyard Wildlife) #Titmouse #Kleptotrichy #Ornithology #BirdBehavior #AnimalBehavior #Weird
Squirrels Have Personalities, with Four Main Traits: Boldness, Aggressiveness, Activity Level and SociabilityGolden-mantled ground squirrels are native to North America. They are also commonly found across the western U.S. and some parts of Canada. A study from the University of California Davis observed these squirrels in order to document their personalities in relation to their environment.The study, published in the journal Animal Behaviour is the first to document personality in squirrels. Researchers discovered that squirrels demonstrate four main traits: boldness, aggressiveness, activity level, and sociability. One of the conclusions researchers made is that bolder squirrels had large core areas of activity, and they were prone to accidents and predators but will defend their territory. In addition, they had perch access, which provided them a better vantage point for watching out for predators.These findings show that understanding animal personality is important for wildlife conservation, as the way these animals behave influences how they use their environment. Lead author Jaclyn Aliperti says that the study “adds to the small but growing number of studies showing that individuals matter,” and that considering animal personality in wildlife management would be needed to predict responses to new conditions like a change or destruction of habitat.Image credit: Jaclyn Aliperti/UC Davis#AnimalBehavior #Squirrels #GoldenMantledSquirrels #Science
Wild Boar Rescued Two Trapped Young Boars by Unlatching a CageMichaela Masilkova and other researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague have observed a rescue attempt by a wild boar of two young boars from a cage. Masilkova et.al. aimed to observe rescue behavior in animals. This type of action is when one individual frees another that finds itself in a distressing or dangerous situation. According to the researchers, “rescue behaviour represents an extreme form of prosocial behaviour that has so far only been demonstrated in a few species.” In addition, rescue behavior is also considered as a form of targeted helping, which can represent the most complex form of empathy. To provide context and backing to their theories, the researchers have documented a case where an adult female wild boar manipulated wooden logs securing the door mechanism of a cage trap and released two entrapped young wild boars. The adult boar expressed a sign of distress in freeing the victims, showing the animal’s sympathy and understanding towards the anguish and stress the entrapped boars were feeling. The whole rescue event lasted 29 minutes. The female rescuer immediately attempted to remove the logs that blocked the doors of the box trap. It involved several attempts, but the logs were eventually removed. The researchers concluded that the adult boar matches the requirements of previously established conditions for rescue behavior. These conditions were the following: (a) the victims being distressed and endangered by physical injury or death, (b) the rescuer puts itself at risk by its rescue actions, wherein the female may or may be at risk of being entrapped with the victims, (c) the behavior of the rescuer is adequate to the victim’s circumstances, as she immediately attempted to remove the logs, and (d) rescue behavior does not bring any direct benefit to the rescuer-- the researchers conclude that the rescue was not motivated by food. Image credit: Michaela Masilkova, et.al #RescueBehavior #AnimalBehavior #WildBoars #Science
Orangutans Spontaneously Learn to Use a Hammer to Crack NutsAnimals using tools are a rare occurrence, and using a tool to crack nuts is considered one of the most complex behaviors in wild animals. Only chimpanzees, capuchins, and macaques have been known to do so. But now, there’s a fourth animal on the list: the orangutans.Researchers gave a large log and some nuts to orangutans living in zoos and observed that some of them spontaneously used the log as wooden hammers to crack the hard nuts. Of the twelve orangutans tested, four learned to use the log as hammers without ever seeing another animal doing it first.“Among the great apes, and after chimpanzees, orangutans are the ones known to have the second-largest repertoire of tool use. However, wild animals have not previously been observed cracking nuts,” said Claudio Tennie of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology at the University of Tübingen. “[The] orangutans themselves can develop this complex behavior purely through individual learning,” added study author Elsa Bandini.Image credit: Claudio Tennie/University of Tübingen#orangutan #ToolUseByAnimals #hammer #AnimalBehavior
Slow but Deadly: Tortoise Hunts and Eats Baby Bird"It was horrifying and amazing at the same time," said Justin Gerlach of University of Cambridge, as he reported on the first documented evidence of a tortoise hunting, killing and eating a tern chick.The video clip shows an adult female giant tortoise in the woodlands of the Frégate Island in the Seychelles archipelago walking slowly but purposely towards a tern chick stranded on a log. The chick tried to fight, but the tortoise managed to crush the bird's head, instantly killing it. Then, the tortoise proceeded to swallow the chick whole.Gerlach noted that the attack seemed to be deliberate and planned. The tortoise approached the chick with its jaws open and tongue retracted, which is a typical aggressive behavior. As the giant tortoise is thought to be vegetarian, the evidence of a hunting tortoise brought up new questions about what is causing this new type of behavior. "Could we be seeing a population of tortoises that is developing a new type of behavior with evolutionary implications, or is it just an interesting observation at the moment?" Gerlach added.Video: Anna Zora#tortoise #gianttortoise #hunting #tern #FregateIsland #Seychelles #animalbehavior
Image Competition Winners Show the Diversity of Ecological ScienceThe image above by Kristen Brown shows a school of jackfish swimming in a spiral at the Great Barrier Reef. It was the overall winner in the 2021 photo competition from the scientific journal BMC Ecology and Evolution. The picture also won in the category Conservation Biology. The competition attracted entries from researchers all around the world eager to use their creativity to highlight their work and capture the diversity of the planet's flora and fauna. BMC Ecology and Evolution invited anyone affiliated with a research institution to submit to one of the following six categories: ‘Conservation Biology', 'Evolutionary Developmental Biology and Biodiversity', 'Behavioural Ecology', 'Human Evolution and Ecology', ‘Population Ecology' and 'Ecological Developmental Biology'.Our Senior Editorial Board Members lent their expertise to judge the entrants to the competition, selecting the overall winner, runner up and best image from each category. The board members considered the scientific story behind the photos submitted in addition to their artistic judgement (Fig. 1).#jackfish #fish #biology #photography #photocompetition
Polar Bears Take Down Walruses by Hurling Rocks and IceWhile polar bears mostly eat seals, a good-sized walrus would supply a hefty amount of meat. But walruses are huge, up to 2500 pounds, with thick skulls and dangerous tusks. To land a walrus, a bear must get creative. An account published in 1865 relays an Inuit tale of polar bears hunting walruses by taking the high ground and then throwing rocks down at the pinnipeds. Scientists scoffed at these stories, because bears don't use tools. Or do they? Ian Stirling of the University of Alberta, Edmonton, led a team of researchers looking into the possibility. Stirling and his colleagues determined that polar bears clobbering walruses made sense. Their study cites the example of a five-year-old male polar bear named GoGo using objects as tools to get food in a Japanese zoo. The bear used sticks—as well as throwing a large tire—to knock down meals placed on inaccessible perches. According to the study, “GoGo demonstrated an exceptional and previously undocumented degree of conceptual creativity to facilitate access to a food item hanging from the air.”“The most significant part of this is that a bear is able to look at a situation, think of it in a three-dimensional sense, and then figure out what it might have to do to be successful,” Stirling tells Ginella Massa of “As It Happens” on CBC Radio.Smarter than the average bear? Read more on tool-using polar bears at Smithsonian. #PolarBear #animalbehavior #animaltooluse #walrus
This Goose is Flying Upside Down in an Aerial Maneuver That Birds Sometimes Use to Avoid PredatorsAmateur Dutch photographer Vincent Cornelissen captured this curious photograph of a goose that seemed to be flying upside down. The goose's body and wings are upside down, while its head is right-side up."The weather was bad, so I put on my waterproofs and sat with my back against a tree looking over a lake," Cornelissen said to KJZZ, "I saw that one of the three had trouble flying in a straight line. He was having a hard time which I thought was because of the wind. He seemed to be struggling, so I took some pictures of him.""I immediately realized that I had captured something special, but at the same time, I was afraid that no one would believe me. The image looked like it was edited in Photoshop."It turns out that birds do sometimes fly upside down in a maneuver that ornithologists call whiffling. The aerial maneuver causes the bird to briefly plummet towards the ground, before it reverses itself and fly like normal. The erratic motion looks like a falling leaf, and is often used to avoid predators.Image: Vincent Cornelissen#goose #flying #upsidedown #whiffling #ornithology #animalbehavior
Why Do Gorillas Beat Their Chest?There are many sounds one might hear in the wild. The sound of a gorilla chest beating, however, is clearly in category all its own. For one thing, chest beating is a non-vocal act that can both seen and heard.Why does a gorilla chest beat? The initial assumption was that chest beats were used to scare off rival mates and attract females. Scientists curious about these non-vocal signals have begun to dig deeper. They wanted to know exactly how a chest beat was able to scare other males.  New research has uncovered that chest beat sounds revealed the body size of the chest beater. The larger the body size, the lower the peak frequency of the chest beat.Gorillas appear to be able to differentiate this difference in peak frequencies. A rival male, hearing the sound of another's chest beat, would be able to assess their opponent. The sound would help them determine if they should fight or flee the chest beater.Image: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund#Gorilla #ChestBeating #PeakFrequency #Mating #animalbehavior
Octopuses Sometimes Punch Fish For No Reason At AllOctopuses are smart animals, that much we know. They have large and well-developed brain as well as complex nervous system. Scientists have observed octopuses use tools and solve complex problems like opening the lids of containers and unlocking latches to get at food inside. They're high social and can communicate with each other. They can even collaborate with other predatory fish when they hunt.A new observation by Eduardo Sampaio and colleagues has now shown that octopuses can also be a bit of a jerk: they recorded multiple events where different Octopus cyanea off the coast of Egypt were seen punching fishes, sometimes for no reason at all!Sampaio noted that during collaborative hunting, there were times where the octopuses had good reasons to punch their partner fish, for example to gain advantage over them while catching a prey, to forcibly relocate a fish to a less advantageous position in the group, or even to permanently ban a partner fish.But there were also instances where the octopuses seemed to punch a fish out of spite with no immediate benefit. Sampaio wrote that "punching could be a case of spite (no emotional connotation), used to impose a cost on the fish regardless of self-cost, for example, after defection (stealing prey) by a usually collaborative partner."#octopus #animalbehavior #cephalopod #animalintelligence #hunting #cephalopod #marinebiologyVideo: Sampaio E, et al.
Clever Cockatoos Learn to Open Trash Bins Through Social Learning (i.e. Copying Others)Suphur-crested cockatoos in Australia are known to scavenge food from trash bins. Recently, animal behavior researchers discovered that the techniques that the cockatoos use to lift the lids of the trash bins are actually learned behavior that spread through social learning.In late 2018, the researchers noted that a cockatoo in northern Sydney invented a distinct way to lift open the lid of the garbage bin, and that behavior was copied by birds in neighboring districts."We observed that the birds do not open the garbage bins in the same way, but rather used different opening techniques in different suburbs, suggesting that the behavior is learned by observing others," said Barbara Klump of Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior.Image: MPI of Animal Behavior / B. Klump
Keeping Track of Hibernating Hedgehogs by Attaching a GPS Backpack to Their SpinesWhen scientists were trying to figure out whether hedgehogs travel down from the alpine zones of the Mackenzie Basin, New Zealand, during the cold winter months, they were faced with the problem of tracking the spiky mammals.It turned out that the solution was quite simple: just attach a GPS transmitter like a backpack!"You can attach a transmitter directly to their spines," said Nick Foster of New University of Otago, "There is no collar, no contact with the skin, and there is no feeling in their spines, which are a similar material to our fingernails. Spines regrow after they are clipped and devices fall off as they naturally shed.The GPS transmitter backpack worked wonderfully and the scientists found out that instead of wandering downhill to lower elevations to escape the cold, the hedgehogs stayed put and hibernated instead.#hedgehog #GPS #hibernation #zoology #animalbehavior
How Do Fireflies Synchronize Their Flashings? By Looking at Each OtherIt's a spectacular summertime display of natural light: thousands of male fireflies flashing together in harmony but how in the world do they know when to synchronize flashings?​New findings by Orit Peleg of the University of Colorado at Boulder and colleagues suggest that individual fireflies know when to flash their lights in unison by ... looking at other fireflies!When the researchers, for example, put a single male into the pop tent all on his own, that bug would flash without a good sense of rhythm—a few bursts here, a few bursts there. Increase the number of fireflies, however, and things began to change.“When you start putting 20 fireflies together, that’s when you start observing what you see in the wild,” Sarfati said. “You’ve got regular bursts of flashes, and they’re all synchronized.”The fireflies, in other words, likely aren’t hardwired to flash with a particular pattern. Instead, their light displays seem to be more social. Bugs watch what their neighbors are doing and try to follow along. The group’s findings, Peleg said, could help researchers learn more about a range of other synchronous behaviors in nature—and maybe one day design swarming robots that act in tandem.#firefly #synchrony #insect #biology #animalbehaviorVideo: Peleg Lab
Floating Fire Ant Swarms Form Tentacles As They Float on WaterWhen fire ants encounter water, they will clump into a floating raft. But the individual ants don't always stick together in a tight blob - instead, some will throw themselves over the edge of the swarm to form tentacle-like protrusions.But why do these individual ants purposely endanger themselves like that?The Smithsonian explains:“[The swarm] is almost like a smart system,” says Franck Vernerey, a soft matter physicist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the senior author of the fire ant study. “It's flowing by itself, producing those large, long protrusions and retracting them.”Protrusion formation probably helps fire ants search their environment for new ground in a flooded environment, akin to casting a wide net and hoping something catches, says Linda Hooper-Bui, an environmental scientist at Louisiana State University.#ant #fireant #swarm #animalbehavior
Must Go Faster: Watch This Angry Elephant Chase Away a Safari JeepIn 2019, these visitors to the Kruger National Park in South Africa got an unexpected adventure when an elephant attacked the safari jeep they were riding! The jeep's driver threw the jeep in reverse and miraculously escaped the charging elephant.#elephant #safari #jeep #KrugerNationalPark #animalbehaviorThe full video clip below:
"Keep Calm, Alessandro": Brown Bear Stalks Boy Walking Down a HillWhen he came face-to-face with a brown bear in the hills of Brenta Dolomites, northern Italy, 12-year-old Alessandro didn't scream or panic. Instead, he said "make the video" and walked calmly down.The bear stalked the boy as he walked slowly down the hill, as the man taking the mobile phone video said, "keep calm, Ale" (Ale is the diminutive of Alessandro).When interviewed by l'Adige, Alessandro said "I had seen the bear three times, it was a special day for me." Fear? "No."#bear #italy #wildlife #animalbehaviorThe full video clip below:
Mongoose Parents Solved Social Inequality by Not Knowing Which Pups Are Their OwnBanded mongoose mothers have solved a problem that has eluded humans for ages: how to create a more just and equitable society. How do they do it? By giving birth at the same time.Mothers in a banded mongoose colony give birth on the same night, thus creating a "veil of ignorance" over which pups in the communal creche are their own biological offspring. This means that they will take care of all pups instead of just their own.A new experiment showed that inequality at birth as measured by weight is quickly solved as mongoose mothers allocated extra care to underweight pups that aren't biologically theirs:In the new study, led by the universities of Exeter and Roehampton, half of the pregnant mothers in wild mongoose groups were regularly given extra food, leading to increased inequality in the birth weight of pups.But after giving birth, well-fed mothers gave extra care to the smaller pups born to the unfed mothers—rather than their own pups—and the pup size differences quickly disappeared.Dr. Harry Marshall, of the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Roehampton, said: "In most of the natural world, parents favor their own young."However, in banded mongooses, the evolution of remarkable birth synchrony has led to the unusual situation that mothers don't know which pups are their own, and therefore cannot choose to give them extra care."Our study shows that this ignorance leads to a fairer allocation of resources—in effect, a fairer society."Image: Adrian Pingstone/Wikipedia​#socialequality #mongoose #veilofignorance #animalbehavior