Cat food formula surprise

Different groups of researchers are interested in learning how much wildlife cats kill for food. With this in mind researcher Roland Kays from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences decided to study how much wildlife domestic cats kill and eat to supplement the food they are fed by their owners. What they found was very surprising as well as important for cat owners.

The researchers found that they could not determine the amount of wildlife that cats eat because they were studying elements in cat food as a comparison. The reason why this study failed is because cat food manufacturers do not use consistent types and amounts of ingredients in their food. Even foods that were the same flavor and brand were inconsistent. The researchers found that the less expensive brands had more corn products and that the cat food produced in the United Kingdom had a lower amount of corn products.

Author’s Note: This information accounts for why some cats who like a certain brand and flavor of food will suddenly refuse to eat that food. Cats have a very acute sense of smell and they can detect the change in their food. Dog food is no better and dogs can suddenly reject a food that they liked previously. Changing the formula of dog or cat food can also induce loose stools and weight changes in a dog or cat.

New research about the Himalayan wolf

For many years researchers believed that the Himalayan wolf was related to the gray wolf and was not given its own identification. However, the latest research has shown that the Himalayan wolf is a different species than the gray wolf. So much so that scientists have given it its own wolf taxon which means it is recognized as a different species which allows conservationist to form programs to protect it.  

Researchers also found that the wolf not only lives in the Himalayans, but in all of the higher altitude regions of Asia including the Tibetan Plateau. This is a very large area of the planet.

The research teams also found that the wolf does not exist on livestock as is believed by the local people, but mainly preys on wildlife. This discovery is important because the wolf has been hunted due to the belief that they were killing livestock as well as for illegal wildlife trade.

With the wolf’s new status, conservation efforts can be initiated, the local population educated and hopefully help with conservation efforts.

How do elephants treat their dead?

There have been many stories about how elephants react to members of their species who have died. For the first time researchers Shifra Goldenberg, Ph.D., from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and George Wittemyer, Ph.D., from Save the Elephants and the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University have studied these phenomena.  

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Elephants clearly show feelings for deceased members of their species even if the dead elephant was not a member of their group. They approached the dead animal, investigated the carcass, and appeared to mourn when it was a relative. Some even visit the carcass repeatedly. Elephants have been observed vocalizing and attempting to lift a fallen elephant that had just died. This study indicates intelligence as well as deep emotions that we need more research to understand.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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/