The study of animal behaviour.

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25
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2answers
12k views

Where do migratory birds go when it rains?

I was reading a comic from XKCD which inspired me to ask this question: "well, where do they go when it rains?" I know that when it rains you usually don't see any birds flying through the sky. I ...
18
votes
1answer
233 views

Are there dextral/sinistral higher animals?

For example, almost every dog I've met in my life (more than 20 subjects) uses their right paw touching one while asking for attention. Can it be used as a criterion for calling them dextral? If not, ...
15
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1answer
548 views

How do porcupines keep from pricking each other while mating?

How do porcupines keep from pricking each other while mating? It seems like they would constantly be scratching each other.
14
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1answer
189 views

Do species other than humans have distinct daily feeding patterns?

I have a general interest in complex adaptive systems and I have found that nature and the organisms within it is a perfect natural case of a rich adaptive system with a lot of possibilities for ...
13
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1answer
342 views

How do members of cryptic species know who to mate with?

According to Wikipedia: In biology, a cryptic species complex is a group of species which satisfy the biological definition of species—that is, they are reproductively isolated from each ...
13
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1answer
289 views

Do fake wasp nests actually fool wasps?

I have seen fake wasp nests sold as a deterrent against wasps and similar insects. Do they really work? Is there some scientific evidence for it? A related link: ...
10
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2answers
206 views

Can canines communicate with each other using gaze direction?

After researching why humans have white scleras when most primates have dark scleras, I stumbled upon the cooperative eye hypothesis. It proposed that white scleras may have evolved on behalf that it ...
9
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3answers
5k views

Why can all animals swim in water without learning to swim but humans cannot?

I had a question since I was a child. I was always curious about the fact that all animals can swim in water. They don't need any training or to learn swimming. But humans need to learn to swim. Why ? ...
9
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2answers
539 views

What does “nesting failure” mean?

According to the Wikipedia article on swans, swans are mostly monogamous but may sometimes separate, particularly after a "nesting failure". What "nesting failure" may mean is not entirely clear to ...
9
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2answers
189 views

Birds placing sticks on train tracks?

I live in a semi-rural area in Germany, close to a park which trains go through every 20 minutes. Today, I saw something that left me perplexed. There is a large population of birds that look like ...
8
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1answer
1k views

Do any animals other than humans undergo menopause?

Do any animals other than humans undergo menopause? Also, is there any difference between animals in captivity and animals in the wild as regards menopause? For example, even if menopause has been ...
8
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3answers
78 views

What triggers the migration of robins?

I live in central Massachusetts, and have begun seeing robins, as we generally do in early March. The temperature is well below normal, though, and three feet of snow are covering the still-frozen ...
8
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3answers
254 views

Is there any documented evidence for suicide among vertebrates other than humans?

Is there any documented evidence for suicide among vertebrates other than humans? Lemmings not accepted !
8
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1answer
64 views

Do ant colonies prioritize survival of particular members above others?

In some (perhaps small) human communities people may starve because they have no income. This could be interpreted as a consequence of them not participating in the community, hence they don't get any ...
8
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1answer
151 views

Why don't birds in flocks fly into each other?

I've seen videos of hundreds of birds flying in the same general direction but creating incredible patterns in the sky seemingly instantaneously! How do they all know in what direction to turn at the ...
8
votes
1answer
122 views

Dogs bark at familiar person in Santa costume. Why? Don't dogs trust smell over vision?

Last night 10 humans and 2 dogs spent Christmas together. At some point, one human dissappears for a few minutes and comes back wearing a full Santa outfit. Upon respawning, the dogs start barking ...
7
votes
1answer
861 views

Facultative Cannibalism?

I heard about Larger cats eating the cubs. Is it some kind of facultative cannibalism or they can eat there own kind like that? What are the facultative cannibalism present in animal kingdom? What ...
7
votes
1answer
77 views

What is this woodlouse doing?

I picked an apple from the ground, it was wet with dew and a woodlouse was stuck to it, with its back against the apple. When it got loose, it started flexing its "tail" like this for a while. Why?
7
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1answer
571 views

Why do pigeons kill their chicks when touched by a human?

I used to have many pigeons around the house. If by chance one of the chicks fell out of the nest, we used to put it back using gloves. Usually, if we would touch the chicks with our bare hands, ...
7
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1answer
160 views

Why do flies fly in circles?

Lying on my bed, doing nothing I recently noticed flies usually fly in small circles, right under my ceiling lamp. Worth noting - the lamp was off as it was middle of a day. And those flies kept ...
7
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1answer
395 views

What is the name of the appendage that mantis shrimp use to rub their eyes?

In this short clip, you can see the mantis shrimp using some sort of feathery arm/claw to rub its eyes. Looking at a diagram here, it appears possibly that it's using maxillipeds. Someone with ...
7
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1answer
304 views

Do non-human animals suffer from insomnia?

And how do we know whether they do or not? § If sleep is a physiological need, it seems weird that we become unable to fulfill on demand even in the absence of any obvious physical issues. We would ...
6
votes
1answer
7k views

Why can cats interpret things on a monitor/tv, but dogs cannot?

E.g. you can see a lot of videos where cats are smashing some mouse or spider on an ipad, but I have never seen it with a dog. I have a dog myself and I know that he sometimes responds to the sounds ...
6
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2answers
105 views

Is there a term for tool use in animals?

Is there a technical/scientific term that scientists use to refer to tool making abilities found in certain types of animals? Reference ...
6
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1answer
837 views

Cat purring: What are some possible underlying mechanisms behind purring and bone remodeling and formation?

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-do-cats-purr The article above says that cats purr mostly when they're wounded or under duress. They hypothesis that cats purring leads to ...
6
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1answer
67 views

Do any birds have established “poke a predator's eyes out” behavior?

Is there a pattern/tactics of behavior in any birds species that consists of attacking a predator's eyes with its beak? I'm looking for established tactics, not 1 or 2 anecdotal examples.
6
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1answer
649 views

What happens to an ant colony when the queen dies?

Does the colony collapse? Do workers keep following the last orders? Or can future queens replace the dead one? I'm guessing this might also depend on each specific sub-species.
6
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1answer
72 views

Can dolphins actually communicate linguistically?

Humans use "language." By language, I mean the thing I am using right now to talk to you. I know dolphins and orcas have very complex communication systems and also seem to process linguistic and ...
5
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2answers
148 views

Are we more attracted to people of the same ethnicity? [on hold]

Are humans more attracted to people from their own ethnic groups? I ask this because most of the time people have relationships with people of their own ethnicity, and I wonder if it's purely social, ...
5
votes
3answers
200 views

Is homosexuality an adaptation in humans?

Homo sapiens have menopause - as some other mammals (e.g. some Cetacea) - a phenomenon where older females live for decades after the end of their own reproduction. Perhaps homosexuality, that looks ...
5
votes
1answer
480 views

Do ants within a colony ever fight or come to conflict?

I'm investigating how hierarchical groups of a larger organization with a common goal tend to come to conflict with one another over time. As you decompose a large group (for example a corporation), ...
5
votes
1answer
85 views

Why do these earthworms stay between the road lines?

This article shows pictures of earthworms during floods in Texas. The worms ball up, supposedly in order to survive the floods. Can anyone explain the phenomenon a little? I can't seem to find ...
5
votes
1answer
403 views

What makes an animal/species suitable for domestication/training?

Humans have domesticated all manner of creatures during the course of their civilization - dogs, horses, several types of cattle, varieties of birds, and perhaps others too. A prerequisite for an ...
5
votes
1answer
170 views

Why does ant queen keep the eggs out of her hive?

I have captured an ant queen and now I'm trying to create an artificial ant nest. I have noticed that though she has dug a hole to hide in, she keeps the eggs out of it unless she feels that they ...
5
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1answer
114 views

Competition for mates in sea horses

This source here ...research has shown that it is STILL the males that compete for females. says that male sea horses compete for mates but this source here Females exhibit a ...
4
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3answers
3k views

What if rB=C in hamilton's rule?

Hamilton's rule states that if rB>C then a gene giving altruistic behaviour will increase in frequency in the population. What would happen if rB=C? Will an individual perform the altruistic act?
4
votes
2answers
445 views

Is life expectancy linked to intelligence in animals?

For example, animals that live only a few days or a few years are often not very intelligent. In contrast, the most intelligent animals seem to live longer. Is this true? Are there any studies to ...
4
votes
2answers
213 views

Do animals suffer from “Human” mental disorders?

It is tragic, but apparently Killer whales and Dolphins can commit suicide too (e.g. here)... This suggests they can become depressed. I wondered whether they were "clinically" depressed like many ...
4
votes
1answer
116 views

Is it true that there is a spider that eats parasites from caterpillars

I think I once saw a video of a caterpillar that could get infected by a parasite, and could die of that, unless a specific kind of spider would eat the parasite, and so once the caterpillar is ...
4
votes
1answer
107 views

Which factors may affect a choice of an oviposition place in nocturnal moths?

Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) is a small brachypterous (females have stunned wings - unable to fly) moth which places eggs on thick branches. I would like to know which abiotic and biotic factors ...
4
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1answer
162 views

Tool use by animals: research history

I was under impression that data about quite a lot different species using different tools is a fairly modern phenomenon, i.e., all of the research is fairly recent. Around 50 years ago it was ...
3
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5answers
523 views

Does any animal species have two sexes and more genders?

Does it exist any animal species that have two sexes and a kind of different internal diversification in two genders or more? I mean no something like different-task-based diversity but something ...
3
votes
4answers
459 views

How come most animals never seem to evolve over millenia?

People often say, including those with extensive knowledge in biology, that a certain species of animal will evolve in one way or another: 1.From changing environments. 2.Mutations. 3.Possibly even ...
3
votes
1answer
143 views

Do insects respond to the detection of dead insects?

Are there insects that change their behavior upon detecting the nearby presence of other dead insects? If there are, can you provide an example?
3
votes
3answers
167 views

Do animals also dream?

By "dream", I mean: Dreaming while sleeping. Dreaming about their future life while being awake. Thank you in advance.
3
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1answer
22 views

Crow branch pecking behaviour

I was walking through a small park when two crows started cawing at me, and followed me, flying from tree-to-tree as I walked. I speculate that this is a territorial or protective behaviour, but what ...
3
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1answer
195 views

Do wolves bury food like dogs?

Many breeds of domestic dogs seem to like burying food, presumably in preparation for leaner times. Assuming that dogs evolved from animals similar to the modern wolves through a mix of natural and ...
3
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1answer
89 views

Will a garter snake eat unusual prey if made to smell like something normal?

I have noticed that my garter snake only eats after it has smelled it's prey to make sure it is a slug, and it doesn't matter whether it's moving or not. If I were to coat, say, a caterpillar with ...
3
votes
1answer
61 views

Why do some animals try to imitate other animals?

There is a tendency of some animals (including people!) to be "copy-cats" and try to imitate members of their own, and sometimes other, species. The most obvious example is a parrot copying human ...
3
votes
1answer
108 views

Why do animals only eat some parts of their food?

For example monkeys/apes only eat part of a fruit and then throw the rest. Cats (big and small species) only eat some parts of their prey and then they abandon it. Humans on the contrary leave as few ...