Fish can perform addition and subtraction

The research group led by Prof. Dr. Vera Schluessel from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Bonn has proven that Cichlids and stingrays can perform simple addition and subtraction up to the number five. The researchers still do not understand how fish use this ability.

Google free images

What makes this very interesting is that fish do not have the part of the brain that allows them to perform complex cognitive tasks and these species of fish do not need the ability to count in the wild. Other species of fish do pay attention to the number of eggs in their clutch.

Author’s Note: It is always amazing to learn that fish and animals have more intelligence than humans assumed that they have. It makes it exciting to think of what is yet to be discovered and should make people pause the think about how we treat other species.

Artificial intelligence can now analyze animal behavior

Researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich have developed an automated way to analyze the recordings of animal behavior. The program uses computer vision and machine learning that can distinguish individual animals. The AI program can identify specific behaviors such as curiosity, fear, stress, anxiety and discomfort and harmonious social interactions.

Google free images

The advantage is that this technique can be used by many scientists which will allow them to compare results. It saves the researchers hours of viewing recordings of animals.

The application will be especially useful for the animals kept in zoos to determine their behavior and detect any problems that might go unnoticed by zoo keepers.

Author’s Note: Perhaps this will lead the way for veterinarians to better able to detect pain in pets.

Wolf pups surprise scientists

Scientist Christina Hansen Wheat of Stockholm University, Sweden was surprised to see eight-week-old wolf pups willingly chase a ball and bring it back to a person that they had never seen before.

Previously researchers had assumed that this behavior was limited to dogs and was based on learned communication cues that developed between dogs and people. They had tested three different wolf litters and none of the pups in the first two showed interest in the fetch game. But three pups from the third litter did fetch a tennis ball.

The purpose of their studies is to compare wolves and dogs to see where the behavior that people see in dogs comes from. This is another step in the process of unraveling the similarities between wolves and dogs.

Sue’s note: Although this is an exciting observation for the researchers, consider that Golfing cockatoos can combine elements to make tools in the same manner that some other animals can and beyond the ability of most young children. When you look at the animal kingdom as a whole, there are many amazing things we can learn that should not be a surprise. Testing any species that does not communicate the way we do, severally limits our ability to understand that species. This is evident with people as well. Think of a people group that has a different language and culture. How well can you communicate to them and they to you? While we can test other species we will never, and I repeat never know what they are thinking or why they do what they do. Anyone who claims that they know what an animal thinks and why they do what they do is misinformed. We can only surmise based on our personal interpretation and knowledge of that animal.

Extremely rare insect found

In a report by Dr. Alvin Helden of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) he and his students working in the rainforest of the Kibale National Park in western Uganda found a species of leafhopper so rare that the last reported sighting was another leafhopper in the same genus in 1969. That sighting was in the Central African Republic.

Der Helden has named this new species Phlogis kibalensis. A leafhopper is closely related to cicadas but are much smaller.

Sue’s Note: What is interesting is that over the years I have read reports of other rare or previously unknown species of fish, animals and insects being discovered for the first time. It is amazing how much of our world we do not know.

Coat color in dogs and wolves – new discovery

A new study has found that there are five distinct coat colors in dogs and wolves. Previously scientists believed that there were only four. The mystery of coat colors has been solved. (However, we never know what discoveries the future holds.)

This discovery is the result of the work done by an international team of researchers including scientists from the Institute of Genetics of the University of Bern. The team found that a genetic variant which is responsible for a very light-colored coat in dogs and wolves originated in a now extinct relative of the modern wolf.

According to the research a small piece of DNA from this extinct ancestor is still found in yellow dogs and white artic wolves.

Note: This information may help breeders better determine the potential coat color of future litters. I hope that it eventually helps eliminate the deafness and other ills that are connected to certain colorations in dogs, namely the merle, harlequin, piebald and for some breeds the all-white factors, that cause genetic problems.)  

Giraffes are socially complex

Recently scientists have learned that Giraffes have a complex social structure. There is evidence that their social life is as complex as elephants and killer whales. Giraffe females that have passed the reproductive stage of their life still help rear the young, the grandmother effect. They have high functioning and complex societies.

stock photo

By understanding their social system, scientists and conservationist will be able to help them survive. It will raise their position in the hierarchy of the animal kingdom, affording them more protection to help them thrive.

Authors Note: What this illustrates is that we know very little about the animal kingdom and should never assume anything. It is exciting to think of researching about animals and imagining what we will learn.

The Animals In Our Lives

I had the honor of contributing to this book. Please spread the word.

Stories of Companionship and Awe

by Catherine Lawton (with Cladach Authors and Friends)

The wonderfully varied stories recount experiences with dogs and cats, sheep and horses, backyard birds and woodland deer, and other surprising creatures. The encounters and adventures of people and animals include childhood memories, individual and family experiences, and wilderness adventures. They all celebrate the companionship we have with animals both domestic and wild, in good times and bad, in times of celebration and times of challenge.

As fellow creatures, we give animals attention and care, and they give us so much in return. If we listen and observe, they teach us about God and about ourselves. This inspirational volume will evoke laughter, tears, and the experience of awe.

Animals entertain us, help us, teach us, play with us, mourn with us, even work with us. They help us experience God’s presence in our lives.

Publication date: August 20, 2021

ISBN: 9781945099274, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 15 Black/White Photos

$17.99 Pre-order Now: https://cladach.com/the-animals-in-our-lives/

Surprising activity in Tufted Titmice and Chickadee’s

Researcher Mark Hauber a professor of evolution, ecology and behavior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and other scientists have made an unusual discovery. They found that Tufted Titmice and Chickadees will use animal hair to line their nests. While this may not seem unusual, what he found by studying videos, was that the birds braved landing on sleeping mammals to pluck out their hair. It seems the mammals did not mind having the birds do this and some did not wake up. The fact that these birds use animal hair was not new to the researchers, but it was always assumed that the birds obtained the hair from carcasses, not from live animals.

Tufted Titmouse

The researchers have named this behavior “kleptotrichy” which is Greek for “theft” and “hair.” As the researchers further studied this behavior, they found that the birds plucked hair from 47 humans, 45 dogs, three cats, three raccoons and a porcupine. I wonder if the humans were aware of the plucking birds.

Lily the Havanese
budgie who pulled Lily’s tail

What came to mind for me was a parakeet (budgie) that I owned years ago. While I was working in my office, I would let the bird fly around. My small Havanese would sleep in her bed next to my desk. The keet would sit on my lamp and watch the dog. Then he would fly down, landing on the floor and tilt his head back and forth as birds do, watching her sleep. He would take a few hops toward her until he reached her tail and then he would grab one hair and pull it. The dog would wake up, half rise and growl at the bird, who would squawk bird laughter, as he flew back to the lamp. When the dog went back to sleep, he would do it all over again. I always felt that he did it for fun but who knows?

Cockatoos are very smart

An international team of scientists, Barbara Klump and Lucy Aplin from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, John Martin from the Taronga Conservation Society and Richard Major from the Australian Museum have made an interesting discovery.The sulphur-crested cockatoo, native to Australia, has been observed lifting the lids off of garbage bins to gain access to food. The team of researchers have determined beyond any doubt, that this behavior has been taught through social interaction from bird group to bird group. In one case a lone bird reinvented the technique of opening the trash bin and it was quickly copied and spread to other bird groups. The researchers have determined that this “taught/copied” behavior illustrates regional subcultures.     

cockatoo opening a trash bin – Max Planck photo

Not all of the cockatoos use the technique to open trash bins, but will wait for another bird, typically a male, to open the bin and then they scavenge for food.

Sulphur crested cockatoos are very smart. They are also persistent and in the wild as well as as pets, have adapted very well to living with people.

Dogs understand humans better than wolves

Scientists are constantly trying to understand the mind of the dog vs. the wolf. A recent study at <a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p>www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210712122206.htm</p> Duke University showed that dogs understand people almost from birth whereas wolf puppies that were raised by people within days of their birth do not.

The wolf puppies were fed, slept in bed with and thoroughly interacted with people to try and socialize them. The dog puppies were left with their mother and littermates. The wolf and dog puppies were tested between 5 and 18 weeks old.

The researchers hid a piece of food in one of two bowls and then pointed to the right one. The dog puppies knew instantly, often on the first try, to follow the clue given by the tester. The wolf puppies never were able to follow the tester’s indication, often pointing to the correct bowl.

When the food was put in a container so that the puppy could not access it, the dog puppies looked to the human tester for help but the wolf puppies did not.

According to the researchers, the ability to understand human gestures is a complex cognitive ability that is rare in the animal kingdom. So, the fact that dogs can do it is special.

Author’s Note: Researchers try to understand the process about how dogs became dogs. There are a number of theories and as more material becomes available the theories change. One theory is that dogs are not descended from wolves, even though they are closely related but a species in and of themselves. There is evidence to support this theory the same as other theories.