in a documentary called the leapord queen hyenas pack fight vigorously about food even they would hurt each other , I read a post about dominace theory that animals dont fight each other and every animal know well about their hierarchy your opinion?
The important thing to remember about any animal documentaries you see on tv is that the editors know that footage of animals squabbling and fighting over food is going to merit more public interest than footage of animals calmly feeding together.
The other important thing to remember is that hyena pack structure is very, VERY different from any canid pack structure. While canid pack structure is age-graded and reliant on submissive appeasement behaviors, hyena pack structure is actually much more similar to the group structure of many old-world primates.
Hyenas practice many more overtly “aggressive” behaviors with one another than canids do, but on the whole they are still largely symbolic, with few serious injuries occurring (so long as the fighters are members of the same clan). This increased aggression compared to canids probably has much to do with the much greater complexity of hyena social behavior. Rather than a single breeding pair, any female in the clan is allowed to breed, and cubs inherit their mother’s rank. Furthermore, coalitions form, so that more submissive members may rise in rank in the presence of ‘friends,’ and behavior can change drastically depending on who is in the area and who isn’t. Hyenas even go so far as to have fission-fusion societies, where splinter groups can detach and later rejoin with the main.
Retaining all this social ranking information takes significantly more social intelligence and significantly more social signals, and so aggression is employed along with submission. What most of those documentaries won’t show you is how hyenas may reconcile after a fight, with one approaching the other with appeasement signals. Usually, a grooming session follows.
I understand that you're pretty smart when it comes to animals, so I have a question that has bothered me since I was a little kid: how do cats move without making any sound? another question: why is it that small dogs usually live longer then larger ones? I had a big old dog when I was younger that died, but I also had a little dog that was the same age as the big one when she died, but lived for two or three more years.
To the first question: cats are animals that hunt by ambush- they sneak up on their prey. Compare that to animals like large canids, which generally hunt by coursing- they run down their prey until it is exhausted.
(Within the cats, cheetahs are an obvious exception to this.)
Also consider the fact that cats are on the small side, and their ancestor, the African wildcat, lived in an area with a LOT of larger predators. If you consider these two facts, you can understand why it would be beneficial for the domestic cat to evolve ways to move very quietly.
Now, as to HOW they do it, there are a number of mechanisms. First, their gait. When cats walk, they place their back foot almost directly into the same spot they put their front foot. You can see it in the doubled-up pawprints of cats walking on snow.
Similar to the “we’re being sneaky so step where I step” trope you’ll see in books or movies, stepping in the same spot twice minimizes how much noise the cat makes when it moves.
Another anatomical adaptation is the cat’s paws. If you have ever had the pleasure of touching the underside of your cat’s paw, you may notice that the little pads are very soft- very different from a hard, calloused dog paw. Not only is the skin soft, there is soft fur growing densely around the pads.
And here’s a dog paw for comparison.
Soft things like cat paws make less noise than hard things when they move, because soft things spread out upon impact, muffling sound.
You’ll also notice that the dog’s paw has the blunt nails extended, while cats can retract their claws. Not only does this keep them sharp, it also keeps them from making any noise.
Cats also make a lot less noise breathing when they move than other animals- you’ll notice a cat doesn’t pant like a dog when it walks or runs. (If you see your cat panting, that is a BAD sign. Call your vet.)
But essentially, cats are generally evolutionarily engineered quietude machines.
Now, as to your second question about dog mortality… the answer is a bit more complicated. So much so that I’m going to make a separate post for it tonight when I get home from work. Stay tuned!
What is your opinion in disturbing animal sex acts in antarctic like penguins do necrophilia, fur seals mate with penguins??
This question puzzles me a little. What opinion should I have? Should I organize a march down to the Antarctic to stop all the animal sex acts I don’t approve of?
Anyway, if distressing animal behaviors were what I wanted to stop, I wouldn’t have to go so far out of my way to find them. What about forced copulation in ducks? What about the way African wild dogs literally tear their prey limb from limb while eating it alive? What about how rhesus macaques regularly commit infanticide?
I think that there is a large problem of many people- often people who just don’t have much contact with animals outside of their own pets- putting nature on a pedestal. You just have to go on Facebook to see someone post a picture of a dog and cat snuggling with words that say something like “Why can’t humans get along so well?”
Hundreds of dogs that have chased and killed cats notwithstanding.
Claiming that animals are somehow better than humans is just as bad as claiming that they are worse. Because this suggests that when we find a species that performs behaviors we don’t find morally palatable, it doesn’t deserve the same protection as all the rest.
I feel as though we all want to argue that somehow nature is going to fit into our own moral paradigm, because the alternative would be to admit that sometimes evolutionary success is derived from unsavory acts. And that therefore, things we’d call “depraved” are really “natural.” We are afraid of this because it may make us look back at our own behavior in the same light.
But natural has nothing to do with right or wrong. Our own morality is based on a cultural construct, not a biological reality (though its emergence does have biological underpinnings).
When we look at animal behaviors and feel uncomfortable with them, it is also because we know we cannot stop them. If a male lion kills cubs after taking over a pride, we can’t say, “Hey Mr. Lion, please stop that,” because a) lions don’t speak English and b) we know that the behavior may possibly help the survival of the lion’s species. Or at least that lion’s bloodline in particular.
We are human, so we can apply our values to our own species’ actions. We can’t control what wild lions do, and in fact we shouldn’t. Insofar as a lion can have a sense of morality (at least in a simple sense: a lion may decide not to swat a cub if it is playing too rough, for example), they will apply it themselves.
This of course brings up the ethical considerations of what to do with the behaviors of animals under our control, though I think that’s another, much longer post, and I’m all moraled-out.
(It also brings up this age-old question: different human cultures have a different spectrum of moral behaviors; when is it right to interfere? But I am going to leave that to the anthropologists.)
Wolf eat berry because wolf not obligate carnivore. Wolf have more to diet than just big prey animal even though big prey animal make up most of what wolf eats. Wolf also like berry, insect, fishy, nice fruits.
Wolf not only canid that like berry. All but three canid species occasionally eat plant matter, with some like the maned wolf eating nearly 50% plant matter. Only species that may be 100% meat eaters are bush dog, African wild dog, and dhole. This theory is based mainly on modified shearing carnassial in these 3 species.
Um, can I ask why purebred dogs have so many problems? Or is there already a post on the subject?
The concept of purebred dogs is not a bad one; it’s just the state of many purebred dogs (and other animals) is awful right now.
Theoretically, having a purebred dog would be a way of determining size, looks, and approximate temperament of the animal you are hoping to get. And that is generally a good thing; some owners live in apartments and some live on farms, some want working dogs and some want lapdogs. It’s good for both the owner and the animal if they match up.
Where breeding can go wrong is when the looks and price of an animal matter more than the quality of life that its genes will cause it to have.
The two main issues affecting purebred animals can be summarized to inbreeding depression and overbreeding, both of which I’ll discuss in detail (and with science) below.
honestly seeing those parrotfish made me wonder who was posting weird horror monsters but i guess they're just naturally terrifying? are they meant to be scary?
Meant to be scary? Well, a four-foot fish weighing over 100 lbs is already scary enough if you ask me…
But no, actually, the weird front portraits bumphead parrotfish (also called green humphead parrotfish) have going on probably aren’t meant to scare off predators and such. They use their huge front tooth plates to crunch through coral, their main meal (and poop it back out as sand, so at some point in your childhood you’ve probably incorporated some parrotfish poop in your sand castle).
But why the huge, pink-streaked head? Well, recent footage showed a previously unknown bumphead parrotfish behavior: headbutting! It seems that bright-streaked head is used for some sort of competition between male parrotfish, most likely for mating rights.
And if you were wondering, no, these dudes have never been known to be aggressive to humans, even if they do have jaws powerful enough to bite through rock.
I think you talked about this before but why does one of your babes have a different colored hand? Like he's all pink and it looks like he has a little glove on. Only one of his hands is cold...
Haha, yep, that’s been referred to as Moony’s “Michael Jackson” glove. As to why he has it, well, it’s not actually his hand. It belongs, genetically, to an entirely different axolotl.
Moony (the leucistic/white individual) and Wooper (the wildtype individual) were both lab animals that I adopted after the lab no longer needed them. Both were used in limb regeneration experiments, given that axolotls are famously good at growing most parts of their bodies back after removal. So at some point, that hand of Moony’s was removed, and cells from another axolotl were added to the regenerating stump of the limb. Obviously, those cells belonged to a wildtype axolotl, not a leucistic one. Moony’s body produced the signals that told those cells to go ahead and replicate into a new hand.
Actually, what’s interesting is that when I first got Moony (he was around three months old) his arm was very neatly divided into white/dark sections, but as he’s gotten older, I’ve noticed more and more intermixing of dark and light patches of cells down his arm. He’s four years old now. I’ll try to get a picture of it at some point but not now as he’s had enough excitement for one day.
If people have other questions about Moony or axolotls in general, you can check this post or my axolotl tag for more information!
I’ve lumped these together because they all converge on a similar idea.
What I will say about human behavior is this: behavioral studies apply to populations, not individuals, and that the only definitive natural thing that there is about human behavior that I have seen is that it is incredibly varied, flexible, and complex.
And let me add one more thing: just because something may seem more ‘evolutionarily salient’ does not say anything about whether or not it is morally justifiable or whether or not we have a duty to make it happen. Divorce yourself from this idea at once, please, if you hold it. We can use evolutionary theory to discuss why certain behaviors might happen, but it tells us absolutely nothing about if they should happen, nor does it mean that we have no choice in them happening it all.
As I’ve said before, it is entirely possible to pass on your genetic material without having any of your own children by aiding your siblings and parents in raising theirs. But, in the event that you have no close immediate family, there is absolutely no reason for you to feel bad for not having children. There just isn’t. You’re not being mean to children you’ve never had, or whatever…. I can’t honestly think of a good reason to feel bad at all, as I’m trying to articulate this, haha.
No one is the sole progenitor of the human race; no one carries that burden, and even if they did- even if they were one of the last humans alive- I’d still say they had the right to choose whether or not they had children. The individual should ALWAYS have that right.
On the subject of evolutionary studies, I want you to consider a hypothetical scenario: a sample of 1,000,000 humans is given a survey of what they like better: chocolate or blueberries. The surveys come back in, and the results are that 99% of people say they like chocolate more than blueberries.
“Well, ” you say, “obviously humans prefer chocolate over blueberries.” But you like blueberries more than chocolate, and you wonder secretly if there isn’t something wrong with you, that you prefer blueberries to chocolate and are in that mystical 1%.
But in a sample of 1,000,000 people, 1% equals 10,000 people. 10,000 people who liked blueberries better. Furthermore, there are a hell of a lot more than one million people on the planet. Where was this sample taken- in what country, population, culture? What were the ages of these people, what were the economic backgrounds? And I’m not saying this study wouldn’t be valid- in that area among that subset of people there might really be a tendency to prefer chocolate over blueberries.
But the trend of the population tells you absolutely nothing about your snack preferences, o blueberry-loving person. You already know what they are, and they are as natural and human to you as anything else.
hi koryos i was watching a nat. geo tv program and they were talking about spotted hyenas- more specifically, how their social structures are one of the "most brutal among mammals" to their own members of their families. does this have any truth to it, or is it just normal tv hyperbole?
Most definitely a hyperbole. Statements like this get the biggest eyeroll from me whenever I see them. Number one, how the hell would you quantify a thing like that scientifically? Number two, spotted hyena societies are too damn complex and varied to be summed up with an asinine statement like that one.
(Ok, so maybe I’m a little biased and overprotective when it comes to spotted hyenas, but SO WHAT.)
I think the reason hyena social behavior gets labeled as “overly aggressive” or “brutal” so often is because people are comparing them with the social behavior of other four-legged predators like canids and big cats. There is more overt and frequent intragroup aggression within groups of hyenas than in groups of canids or felids, in general.
But to make this comparison is sort of missing the point because spotted hyenas do not organize themselves the way that canids and social felids do. They organize themselves like cercopithecine primates do.
You know, primates like these baboons.
I’ve never heard anyone talk about these primates being “most brutal among mammals” yet many species have societies characterized by regular intragroup aggression. When you have groups composed of multiple breeding individuals, groups that can split and reform in different ways, groups where you need to remember and analyze social information about every individual- you are going to need a far bigger suite of social behaviors than you would for a simple monogamous pair + offspring group.
And of course all that means that there is going to be more conflict. Some species use aggression as a means to resolve those conflicts as well as affection. Hyenas happen to do that. So do many primates, such as macaques and baboons and chimpanzees and humans.
Just remember, for every time a tv nature doc shows you animals fighting, there are about six hours of unused footage of them lying around not doing anything.
(Side note: I also feel that there’s a slight sexist edge to it when people talk about hyenas being hyper-aggressive because it’s invariably followed by a statement about how it’s the females that are the more dominant and aggressive ones, oh wow gee whiz, isn’t that peculiar and backwards?
…My patience for such statements is dwindling past several decimal points.)
I just saw your Gar photoset and I was like, are Gars and Coelacanths related? (Literally the extent of my knowledge on fish is strictly from playing Animal Crossing)
It’s ok, I learned to ID a lot of fish through playing Okami. Thank god for the No Cartoon Fish trope.
Now, on to your question. Gars and coelacanths are not actually closely related, even though both are actually known as “living fossil” species due to the characteristics they share with primitive/extinct species of fish.
Coelacanths actually belong to a class called Sarcopterygii, the lobe-finned fishes, while gars belong to the class called Actinopterygii, the ray-finned fishes. Here is a diagram of the difference between lobe and ray fins:
The most important thing to notice is that the lobe fin (on the left) has dense bony projections within its fin, while the ray fin (on the right) merely has the slender fin ray bones. This is REALLY important, because lobe-finned fishes would later use those bony projections to make an entirely new type of limb… a foot!
Hell yeah, feet!!!
In fact, if you look at a fish phylogeny, you will come to realize that not only are we more closely related to lobe-finned fishes like the coelacanth than ray-fins like the gar, our clade- the tetrapods- is actually still nested within Sarcopterygii. In other words, you are still technically a fish.
That’s right- we are hot, sexy, teleostomic fish. And we are more closely related to coelacanths than they are to gars.
what do you mean by dominance theory dog trainers?
I’ve spoken about this before, though I’m having difficulty finding the exact post. Anyway, for the short version, trainers that claim that dogs are constantly asserting dominance over you and everything else (I’ve seen a trainer claiming that a dog was dominant over… shadows…) are basing these claims off of extremely outdated research on wolf packs from the 70s (not to mention the interesting fact that domestic dogs are not wolves) and their own misinformed biases.
Multiplestudies have shown that dominance-based training, which includes things like using physical punishment (choke and shock collars, “alpha rolling,” etc.) and flooding (overexposing the dog to a fear stimulus), both doesn’t work in the long run and can have the unintended consequence of making the dog more aggressive.
What kind of filter do you have on your axolotl's tank, if any?
I use an Aqueon QuietFlow filter with a bag of filter media cubes stuffed in the outflow area to disrupt it- it’s a strong little filter, and axolotls hate currents. I’ve been experimenting with trying to make my own cartridges instead of buying the ready-made ones (they’re stupidly expensive…)
Either way I still do 25% water changes once a week. Axolotls are very messy critters and you’re going to have to do a lot of water changing regardless of what filter you get.
I just watched an episode of QI and they said if you inject axolotl with iodine, they turn into salamanders! Is that true?
An iodine injection, applied along with other things, might cause an axolotl to metamorphose. It is much more likely to kill the axolotl.
If you weren’t aware, axolotls are neotonized salamanders, aka they never leave the larval stage. (Just like frogs, salamanders undergo metamorphosis.)
Here’s a normal (neotonized) adult leucistic axolotl.
And here’s an artificially metamorphosed adult axolotl.
Axolotls became permanently neotonized when an ancestor was born with a defect in its hormonal system. Metamorphosis in salamanders is triggered by a hormonal pathway involving the thyroid- axolotls lost the ability to produce one of the first hormones in this sequence, thyroid stimulating hormone, which triggers the thyroid to release thyroxine (T4) to start metamorphosis.
In the 20s it was found that injections of iodine as well as “thyroid extract” could trigger metamorphosis in the axolotl. Iodine is used by the thyroid to manufacture thyroxine, so this was likely why. Later scientists directly used thyroxine to get the axolotl to metamorphose. The process is delicate even under laboratory conditions, with many individuals not fully metamorphosing and/or dying.
There are reports of pet axolotls spontaneously undergoing metamorphosis without the injection, but these are likely individuals that have hybridized with the closely related tiger salamanders (or are tiger salamander larvae that have been sold as axolotls). I’ve also read that there may be some differences in the way that wild-caught versus captive bred axolotls respond to different metamorphosing techniques, but wild axolotls haven’t been brought into the captive breeding pool for decades, and are now so rare in their natural habitat that it’s highly unlikely any ever will again.
Ok, so if you are an axolotl owner, this may sound cool and exciting. But recall that axolotls have evolved to stay in the larval stage. Even if they survive, the forced metamorphosis is very bad for them and most only live a year or so past it (versus their normal 10-15 year lifespan). So please, please do not attempt to metamorphose your axolotl with some method you found on the internet- it likely won’t work anyway and will severely stress out or possibly kill your pet.
I know you're a little (litter? <-- sad attempt at cat pun) overwhelmed with asks at the moment but I am sitting her with my head on a purring cat's tummy and I got to wondering what you had to say about why/how cats purr, and how that ties into your post about house cats (which is lovely fantastic btw), I've always wondered and so I thought I'd ask. ^.^ This question feels really ill-informed but I thought I'd give it a shot. Thanks!
NO STUPID QUESTIONS FRIEND PURRING IS COOL and litterally no one knows what it is anyways. scientists have been studying it for years and the best they can come up with is vague guesses.
Cats do NOT have any kind of special organ to produce purr sounds. The best conclusion scientists have come to is that cats can contract and dilate their vocal folds (analogous to our vocal cords) rapidly as they inhale and exhale, making a vibrating sound. Imagine when you’ve got snot or something sticky at the back of your throat and you feel it vibrating when you breathe. SORRY for giving you that mental image but purring is basically like that but louder.
AS FOR WHY… my favorite theory is that it’s simply an aggression-mitigating. And by that logic, a social mechanism! Kittens and their mothers purr quite a lot with one another, after all, and they purr not only during social contentment but also when they are very frightened or hurt. Also mother cats purr a lot when they are in labor!
This is rather interesting because wild cats up to the size of the cougar purr (the rest, your tigers lions jaguars etc., do not). I think female cats, at least, purr as adults to communicate with their kittens, so I’d say the male version of it got dragged along in evolution too as they also do it as kittens. Our domestic cats purring when we pet them are probably yet again acting as infants do with their mothers.
There’s also a big theory that’s getting more popular that cat purrs also evolved as a self-healing mechanism. Supposedly, low frequency-sounds of a certain range aid in healing and strengthening bones, muscles, and ligaments. I don’t know how much stock I’d put into this theory, but it’s certainly an interesting one.
A side note- one study found that cats who purred when their owners were about to feed them elicited a different type of purr, a more urgent one. This specific purr, when examined with a spectrograph, was found to have frequencies that were really, really similar to… see if you can guess… those of a crying human baby. Additionally, it was irregular in a way that made it very difficult for human listeners to habituate to and ignore. Basically yet another way the cat is exploiting our sensory bias. I like to point out that dogs evolved to manipulate our behavior by becoming more pleasing while cats evolved to become systematically more annoying.
For more information on the mechanism of purrs, try thesetwo articles. And here’s a link to the paper about food-related purrs. Hope this helps answer your questions!
forgive me if you've posted it before, but where do you go to get your lovely flying fox footage? is it a bat sanctuary?
I haven’t posted it before! I’ve been getting all those lovely videos from the Lubee Bat Conservancy (here’s their Instagram) located in Gainesville, Florida. It’s actually a pretty awesome place, I can say up front that they take wonderful care of their animals (they’re AZA accredited as well) and participate in some great research/conservation work.
If it seems like I’m plugging them a lot, well, I really like them- the staff are super friendly and adore the bats, and they’re giving me the opportunity to be up close with these stinky, wonderful animals to learn about their care and enrichment.
For traction in their rear paws. Cats do the wiggle right before they pounce, which as we know is a forward leap. They don’t want to slip when they’re pushing off with their hind legs, so they dig their rear claws into the dirt (or whatever surface they are on) to get a solid grip.
Or, in shorter words, cats do the butt wiggle so that this doesn’t happen: