The study of animal behaviour.

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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 ...
19
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4answers
1k views

Why do we laugh?

Why is it that the reaction we get from absurdity is laughter? Everyone does it, even babies. Is there a reason why it is our instinct to laugh when we see or hear something absurd/humorous
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1answer
1k views

Can beavers control the direction a tree falls?

We humans can easily control the direction a tree falls by making a number of strategic cuts, essentially creating a hinge: This prevents trees from falling on equipment and people and sets them up ...
18
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1answer
258 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
660 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
330 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
400 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
401 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: ...
12
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4answers
356 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 !
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2answers
311 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
8k 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
708 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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3answers
156 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 ...
9
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2answers
217 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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1answer
272 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 ...
8
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2answers
118 views

What are these two fruit flies doing?

When taking some pictures I accidentally captured two fruit flies doing this: The photos are unfortunately blurry, but from what I can tell, one fly approaches the other from behind, and something ...
8
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1answer
104 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
365 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
487 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 ...
8
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1answer
157 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
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1answer
874 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
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1answer
134 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
2k 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
598 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 ...
6
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1answer
11k 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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1answer
76 views

Are there any animals that gradually approaches the predator to search for food?

I was wondering if there is an animal (or insect, bird, etc.) that eventually comes close to its predator to search for food, but only does so if it couldn't find food in the environment it is in. So ...
6
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2answers
115 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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3answers
471 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 ...
6
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1answer
1k 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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2answers
1k views

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

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, ...
6
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1answer
101 views

Why would a python go after such large prey?

Here's a Python eating a crocodile: (photo credit Tiffany Corlis) I read that most Pythons would go for smaller prey, around the size of a house cat, but that larger species enjoy crocodiles, deer ...
6
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1answer
839 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
83 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 ...
6
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2answers
517 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
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2answers
374 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do snails come out after the rain?

Many times, when there is rain after a long time, snails come out afterwards, and you can see snails and slugs everywhere! I have two questions: Why do they come out after the rain? Where are they ...
5
votes
1answer
113 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.
5
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1answer
695 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
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1answer
125 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
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1answer
264 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
173 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
4k 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
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2answers
619 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
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1answer
184 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?
4
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1answer
58 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 ...
4
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1answer
154 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
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1answer
113 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
228 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 ...
4
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1answer
52 views

Do ants use something similar to the honey bee “waggle dance” to instruct the rest of the colony where to find a food source?

In the 20 years since we built our home, we've just recently had our first ant infestation. I'm familiar with the fact that ants leave scent trails to find their way back and forth between the ...