Questions tagged [ethology]

The study of animal behaviour.

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To what extent is excretory control a learned vs. instinctive behavior?

Human babies are clearly not born knowing whether/how to hold in urine and feces, and teaching them to do so requires a nontrivial (really nontrivial...) amount of work on the parents' part. But once ...
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Can organisms like Noctiluca be commercially exploited?

Scientists think that Noctiluca flashes to startle or scare away its predators. The bioluminescence might also attract bigger predators to eat Noctiluca’s predators, just like a burglar alarm that ...
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Why do we like to touch fluffy things?

I read this article but it didn't explain much. Is the fact people like to cuddle pets with fur connected anyhow with our past when our ancestors had fur as well - and therefore could evolve an ...
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How ants handle the huge “data” from multiple pheromone trails?

We know that every single ant produces pheromones to communicate and inform others. When there are millions of ants, how do they handle that many signals without getting confused?
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Is it one queen bee per hive or per colony?

I've come across lots of information on the lifecycle of bees, but I cannot find the answer to my question. If a beekeeper had, say 6 hives, would there be six queens (one per hive) or one (for the ...
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Is every decision we make already “pre-programmed” because of DNA? [closed]

DNA has information about our cells and how every cell should act. Since I am made entirely of cells, including things that make my mind, aren't decisions coded for by DNA by proxy of our cells. ...
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Why would a snake follow a kayak?

We live on the shore of Kentucky Lake in Middle Tennessee and kayak often. A common snake here is the Northern watersnake. Observing several of these snakes over a period of ten years, I am puzzled ...
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Is there any functional difference between Occipital lobe ( in mammals) and Optic lobe (vertebrates other than mammals)?

Visual processing centre in mammals and lower-vertebrates, are known to be different. In mammals, such as human, it is the Occipital Lobe of 2 hemispheres of cerebral cortex; which is a part of ...
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Is it true that pigeons became less afraid of humans in recent years?

My grandfather had told me when I was a kid that at his time the pigeons would not approach humans closer than about 15 meters. At the time he said it the pigeons were approaching us not closer than ...
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1answer
75 views

Which animal species are known not to murder (a targeted attack leading to death) members of their own species? [closed]

Is there any evidence to suggest that some animal species do not murder (a targeted attack leading to death) members of their own species? If so, which are the relevant species?
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Cannibalizing behaviour in ants

Today I saw an ant question biology and was reminded of a picture I had clicked 2 years ago. Here, you can see these black guys cannibalizing this other black guy. To reiterate, these guys had ...
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The most reliable way of identifying deer antler measurements?

I am creating a (theoretical) study on how males use antlers to assess fellow males' abilities. I thus would need to have accurate measurements of antlers, including length, width, number of tines etc....
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Do swarm of the same species attack each other? [closed]

What happens when two swarms find each other? For example: When a swarm of bats, of the same species, go through another bat swarm. Do the bats attack one another or they simply merge into a bigger ...
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Can a zombie apocalypse really occur? [duplicate]

Now, before you flag this question as blatantly off-topic, I claim to have a scientific basis for this(!): not some drug or remote control, but parasitic infection. While reading about behavior ...
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Do experiences shape actions of insects? Animals? [closed]

Would an insect behave differently to stimuli depending on what stimuli occurred to them earlier (that only affects them cognitively or their conscience)?
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ID flying insect found in Belgium

I live in Belgium, and I've just witnessed a weird looking wasp/fly flying around in my room. Here's a picture: So, what's this? It's still in my room, just chilling there. It zooms like a wasp, and ...
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Do clients of cleaner fish queue up?

I can't remember if I saw it in a cartoon, a documentary, or both, but the notion is that the clients of cleaner fish wait in line to be cleaned. "Clients" means the fish (or other aquatic animals) ...
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Do animals' facial expressions have similar meanings to humans'?

In the following pictures, the dog seems to be smiling to the camera. People staring at these picture also tend to feel comfortable and relaxed, presumably because they think it's very happy playing ...
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1answer
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Which animal that lives in the forest makes this noise?

Which animal makes this noise? Link to audio file The file was recorded next to a forest in Germany.
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Why would a mother reject her offspring if it has been “interfered” with by humans?

There was a recent incident at Yellowstone National Park in which tourists placed a bison calf in their vehicle, and that eventually led to the calf being euthanized. The National Park Service issued ...
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Why do emperor penguins breed during the antarctic winter?

No land animal, and I think no sea animals either, stay in the antarctic during winter - except for one: The emperor penguin. These penguins not only stay there, but their prolonged stay involves 4 ...
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Preferred criteria for new bee colony location

As a human I want a house with a roof, indoor plumbing, bug free, and make my wife happy. I don't want to drive too far to work, and it has to be well-suited for offspring. What are the criteria ...
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Is the male satin bowerbird's bower-building behavior innate?

The male satin bowerbird builds a stick structure, known as a bower (distinct from a nest), where courtship and mating take place. They curiously decorate their bowers using blue or shiny objects. (...
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Why do carnivores evolve?

If humans can live without consuming other animals, then why do we do it? From a biological point of view, why do we eat meat? I would also extend the question to other animals because many animals ...
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What, if any, experimental evidence is there that flies rub their legs together in order to clean them? [duplicate]

Everybody's seen a fly rubbing its hands together like Mr Burns. And almost everybody's heard the standard explanation - that it's cleaning itself. Now, this is certainly a very plausible explanation, ...
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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 ...
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Do animals demonstrate target practice (i.e., playful accuracy behavior)?

Do animals demonstrate any sort of accuracy-motivated play? (please provide examples!) Consider most human sports and related hobbies. Most share the common goal of hitting a target or being accurate,...
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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 ...
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1answer
282 views

Why would a python go after such large prey?

I read that most Pythons would go for smaller prey, around the size of a house cat, but that larger species enjoy crocodiles, deer and even a bit of antelope for dinner. But why? Now, I realise that ...
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What are some examples of small-scale physical phenomena that snakes fear?

What are some ways to use technology to repel snakes? One idea I was researching is low-frequency sound, which I read snakes could "feel" even though they are naturally deaf. Would this be a viable ...
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635 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 is ...
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2answers
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Large congregation of birds?

This year in October, I saw a lot of robins, male and female, finches and chickadees, and geese flying south. Surprisingly I didn't see many juveniles from previous broods. My guess is that juveniles ...
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Why Can't the passage of acquired behavior be considered acquired inheritance?

While reading about a cross-fostering experiment conducted on Male California mice and Peromyscus californicus, I came across the fact that the behavior acquired by a generation of mice due to foster-...
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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 ...
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Do reptiles hunt?

I encountered the following passage in the book The Art of Interactive Design by Criss Crawford (bold formatting is mine): [...] From stalking and evasion to the chase, the [interaction between ...
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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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Was this snake behaving abnormally?

This morning, I walked out front of my house to find a medium-sized snake balled up on my driveway beneath my motorcycle. I spotted it from my porch so I didn't walk any closer. I believe it was a ...
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Do any predatorial animals attempt to appear smaller?

There are many animals that have behaviors or characteristics to make themselves appear larger than they are as a defense mechanism, such as butterflies have large eye patterns on their wings. Are ...
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How did the tendency to perform death rituals evolve?

Both elephants and humans perform rituals when deaths occur. However, I do not see any evolutionary benefit of this. The rituals take time, which apparently could be better spent hunting, foraging, ...
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Do “virgin” ant queens ever shed their wings?

In species that reproduce sexually, if an ant queen goes on a nuptial flight and does not successfully mate, will she still shed her wings and try to found a colony (although she probably won't ...
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Any examples of animal behavior in response to meteor showers?

I just spent two nights observing the Perseids and was wondering whether any animals have been recorded to exhibit unusual behaviour in response to meteor showers. It is known that some animals ...
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Why do cats like enclosed spaces (e.g. boxes) so much?

A recent article doesn't reach a firm conclusion, but offers two possible explanations. Hiding is a behavioral strategy of the species to cope with environmental changes and stressors. It keeps ...
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How do other primates treat their fingernails?

Do all primates have to trim their fingernails in some way, or do some primates' fingernails wear off through natural use? Also, is constant nail growth common to all primates?
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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 ...
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1answer
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Are grasshoppers monogamous?

Noticed two grasshoppers jumping together on the porch, and started wondering if they are monogamous? I am aware they have males and females.
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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 ...
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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, ...
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Does level of bats activity differs from day to day?

Say we measure bats activity as number of passes through given area. Can it differ significantly depending from day to day or it stays on average roughly the same? I am wondering whether the following ...
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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. Photo Credit: Texas Parks And Wildlife Department Can anyone explain ...
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1answer
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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.