90 votes
Accepted

Do animals exhibit handedness (paw-ness?) preference?

Short Answer Yes. handedness (or Behavioral Lateralization) has been documented in numerous vertebrates (mammals, reptiles and birds) as well as invertebrates. This includes domestic cats (see Wells ...
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61 votes
Accepted

Do ants or other insects sleep, and if so why?

A quick search on Web of Science yields "Polyphasic Wake/Sleep Episodes in the Fire Ant, Solenopsis Invicta" (Cassill et al., 2009, @Mike Taylor found an accessable copy here) as one of the first hits....
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  • 745
37 votes

Do ants or other insects sleep, and if so why?

The short answer is apparently yes. Studies on sleep in insects date back to papers published by Phil and Nellie Rau in 1916 and 1938. Hussaini et al. (2003) showed that sleep does affect memory ...
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30 votes
Accepted

Can beavers control the direction a tree falls?

It is difficult to find a scientific answer to this question, but let me insert this citation from a specialist site: Contrary to popular belief, beaver cannot plan the direction in which trees ...
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  • 5,620
29 votes
Accepted

Do ants really find the shortest path to a food source?

Short answer Do ants really find the shortest path to a food source? No! But they can find a decent path Longer answer Optimization algorithms are used to search through a possibility space that ...
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  • 67.6k
23 votes
Accepted

What is this grasshopper doing?

It's its ovipositor & it's trying to dig a hole to lay its eggs. "How Do Grasshoppers Dig Holes to Lay Their Eggs? After breeding, female grasshoppers dig a hole in the ground in which to lay ...
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  • 801
23 votes

Do spiders learn how to build webs?

Spiders’ ability to weave webs is a classic example of an innate or instinctual behavior. They do not learn to make webs. The earliest English-language scientific publication that I can find to back ...
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  • 7,729
20 votes
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Why do humans suffer anxiety when they view "Trypophobia trigger images"?

Trypophobia is not a recognised specific anxiety disorder (Washington Post). It is worth mentioning that anyone can have a phobia to anything, this is merely a question of whether many people ...
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  • 11.3k
16 votes
Accepted

Identify this giant green moth(?) with great taste?

That appears to be an Oleander Hawk-moth a member of the Sphinx moth family. I think the only other possibility for Taiwan is the quite similar Jade Hawk-moth, but that supposedly has a dark ...
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  • 5,298
15 votes
Accepted

Why do flies "rub" their front legs when resting?

Flies rubbing their legs are cleaning themselves. They can also often be seen rubbing their back legs often. Additionally, flies also often clean their wings, compound eyes and bodily bristles. Legs ...
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  • 51.1k
15 votes
Accepted

Why do we laugh?

Like so much of biology, we just don't know! I'll preface this answer by disappointing you; this answer doesn't entirely answer your question. That's because this is a pretty big mystery in research ...
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  • 11.3k
13 votes
Accepted

Why do flies fly in circles?

Flies use any object they can find as a landmark. The flies patrol well-defined airspaces underneath landmarks like lampshades. ... Male flies approach a landmark from below and, in the absence of ...
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  • 7,077
13 votes

Do spiders learn how to build webs?

For many species the mother abandons the eggs after laying them and there is no maternal care (sometimes the mother dies after laying eggs, so really no possibility of maternal care). Paternal care is ...
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12 votes
Accepted

Crow branch pecking behaviour

This is a good question. This type of behavior -- pecking at a branch, wiping the side of the beak on a branch, pulling off twigs and dropping them, or knocking off pieces of bark -- is quite common ...
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  • 1,771
12 votes

Why do humans suffer anxiety when they view "Trypophobia trigger images"?

As someone who is very disgusted by this kind of image, I think it is a caused by an association with maladies like burns, infections, and especially parasites. It is difficult for me to even describe ...
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  • 129
12 votes

Do ants really dispose of their own dead, and how/why?

Eating the dead makes far more likely you will catch whatever killed them. They transport and dispose of the dead for the same reasons we do, to reduce disease vectors. They dispose of their garbage ...
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  • 13.2k
10 votes

Theoretically, is domestication of (virtually) any animal possible?

As the previous answers clarify, all organisms have heritable traits that may be manipulated through selective breeding. It is the pragmatics that can be prohibitively challenging. From an (zoo)...
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  • 101
10 votes

Is greed an evolved trait?

The whole point about your question is to define what is an "evolved trait"? The concept of "evolved trait" does not exist in evolutionary biology. Here are various definitions I can think of that ...
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  • 67.6k
9 votes
Accepted

Why do chameleons move back and forth?

The movement you observed serves two functions: Imitation of leaves to protect against predators Improved stereoscopic vision while scanning for their own prey Imitation of leaves (mimesis) ...
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9 votes
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Are there any animals that gradually approaches the predator to search for food?

The behaviour that you describe is common in most animal species, as part of the natural trade-off between access to food, minimizing risk, habituation and hunger. Animals usually choose to forage in ...
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9 votes

Birds brewing beer?

I think you're observing drinking and food moistening. Since birds have no teeth, food like bread, especially if dry, is easier to consume if it is moistened first. Drinking from a gutter is ...
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  • 8,759
9 votes
Accepted

Why do birds legs' not get frostbite?

Birds have a few adaptations and behaviors to keep their legs warm in cold weather: Blood vessels (veins and arteries) run very close together or are intertwined: The arteries and veins intertwine ...
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  • 881
8 votes
Accepted

Can mosquitos bite in self-defense?

Probably not. An immediate defense against predators requires an immediate response. The sting of Hymenoptera like the wasps and bees has an immediately painful reaction. In addition, in the eusocial ...
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8 votes

What biological functions does crying serve?

Lets break this question into parts and answer them one by one. Do tears really save us from harm? Well, yes. Tears, mucus and saliva contain an enzyme lysozyme that breaks down the cell wall of ...
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8 votes

Why do some people become more aggressive when tired?

From Poor sleep as a potential causal factor in aggression and violence In most people poor sleep will not evoke actual physical aggression, but certain individuals, such as forensic psychiatric ...
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