Category Archives: Animal behaviour

Mirrors have revealed something new about manta rays – and it reflects badly on us

Humans make huge use of marine vertebrates, but manta rays may pass the self-awareness test and other fish potentially could too. Ethically, where does that leave us?

As a shark biologist, I enjoy nothing more than going scuba diving with sharks in the wild. However, I realise it’s an immense privilege to do this as part of my work – and that for the vast majority of people experiencing the underwater world in such a way is simply not possible.

Nevertheless, even without the aid of an air tank humans interact with fish on many levels and in greater numbers than they do with mammals and birds. A review published by the journal Animal Cognition in 2014 by Culum Brown, an associate professor at Macquarie University, Sydney, explains that fish are one of the vertebrate taxa most highly utilised by humans. But despite the fact that they are harvested from wild stocks as part of global fishing industries, grown under intensive aquaculture conditions, are the most common pet and are widely used for scientific research, fish are seldom afforded the same level of compassion or welfare as warm-blooded vertebrates.

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Source: gad

'Paramedic ants' observed treating injured comrades

The social insects have been seen cleaning wounds and possibly administering antibiotics to prevent infection

When the battle is done the victors head home, their march broken only to gather the wounded, who are hauled back to base for life-saving treatment.

Not a heroic scene from the second world war, but the daily grind for African Matabele ants, which leave their nests in the hundreds to launch raids on feeding termites – and risk life and limb in the process.

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Source: gad

Talking animals: we aren’t the only species capable of speech …

Ongoing studies show that some mammals and birds can mimic the sound of the human voice

Research published last month proved that orca, or killer, whales have the ability to mimic the complexities of human speech. Josep Call, professor in evolutionary origins of mind at the University of St Andrews, was a co-author of the study. He said: “I think here we have the first evidence that killer whales may be learning sounds by vocal imitation.”

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Source: gadt

Gone fishin': decorator crabs use other species as fishing rods, study reveals

A researcher’s diving holiday lead to a startling discovery of never-before-seen behaviour: crabs using hydrozoans as fishing hooks

Every night as the sun goes down, on the coral reefs of the Red Sea small, delicate and slightly fuzzy-looking crabs work their way through the maze of coral. They take up stations atop the corals’ outermost structures, exposing themselves to the current in the plankton-rich waters. These are decorator crabs, of the genus Achaeus, known for their peculiar habit of covering themselves with an array of invertebrates, including delicate hydrozoans: multi-headed creatures with tiny tentacled polyps that feed on plankton.

In a recent paper published in the journal Marine Biodiversity, Dr Joan J Soto Àngel, from the University of Valencia, suggests that the crabs are not only benefitting from the camouflage and defence the hydroids provide, but are also “fishing”, using their covering of hydrozoan polyps as the hooks.

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Source: gad

Are you a mosquito magnet? Swatting really can deter them, study shows

Researchers have discovered why mosquitoes prefer some people over others – and how a swat teaches them to avoid you

Researchers have found a solution for those plagued by mosquitoes: thrash about, and the insects will learn to give you a wide berth.

While it has long been known that mosquitoes favour some individuals over others – and can shift those preferences when availability is scarce – it was not clear what was behind the switch.

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Source: gad

Pioneering wolf becomes first sighted in Belgium for a century

Researchers have tracked Naya from eastern Germany into the Netherlands and now Flanders

The first recorded wolf on Belgian soil for at least 100 years has made her bloody mark.

Farmers in north-east Flanders have been put on high alert after evidence emerged that Naya, a female originally from eastern Germany that has been making a pioneering trek across Europe, had killed two sheep and injured a third near the Belgian town of Meerhout.

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Source: gad