This is definitely a really interesting topic to me, and I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability. Keep in mind that I’m coming at this from a psychology/biology background, not an anthropological one- I’d love to hear people from that field weigh in on the topic.
I’d also like to note that some of the things in this article aren’t based on scientific research but my own observations and opinion.
My reply got pretty long so I put it behind a cut, but here’s what I go over:
Why people keep animals, and the types of relationships people have with animals
Domestic vs tamed animals
Conditions that allow humans to keep pets
Animal-animal relationships that resemble human pet keeping
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.
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!
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.
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.
Why do the jaguars want to kill the caiman anyway? Was it really that hungry?
Not so much a question of it being “that” hungry- caimans are part of a jaguar’s normal prey repertoire. About the only large native ungulate in South America is the tapir, so the jaguar’s diet is quite different from other big cats like the lion or tiger. (It’s the third largest feline after those two!)
I met this gorgeous fellow, named Junior, at the Belize Zoo.
Jaguars have been recorded eating almost 90 different prey species- they are extreme generalists. They have exceptionally powerful jaws and can bite through turtle shells, so a tough-skinned caiman is absolutely no problem for them.
They even have a special method of killing them- normally, the jaguar uses its canines to pierce the skulls of its prey, but for caimans, which have flattened skulls, the jaguar bites them on the back of the neck to dislocate the cervical vertebrae and paralyze them.
Can you make a post with all the links to your articles about animals and stuffon tumblr? I can't find the ones I haven't read but really want to read them. It's okay if it's inconvenient, or its been done and I just didn't notice, I won't mind :-)
Ah, it’s no problem. I’ve been trying to go through and tag all my educational posts with learning with koryos, so they’re easier to find, but I haven’t gotten to all of them. You can also find a lot of animal answers if you go through my ask koryos tag.
i'm sorry if this sounds like a ridiculous ask but, yeah, i really enjoyed your essay/dissertation on boobs, that was really enlightening. i'm kind of worried though, with the evolution of human boobs, that people will still use it to further excuse cismen of giving women unwanted sexual attention and saying, "it's not his fault it happened. he saw her boobs and he just acted on instinct." i guess, what i would like to ask is, what can be said to say that's not acceptable despite said evolution?
Anytime someone says that they are “acting on instinct” to excuse this kind of behavior is spouting complete and utter bullshit.
There’s some evidence that human breasts got so big (compared to other primates’) partially due to sexual selection. Which may be part of the reason why there is a tendency among many people to find breasts sexually attractive. (Myself included; and I am not a cisman.)
There’s also evidence that our bright red lips evolved as another signal of sexual attractiveness.
From what I’ve seen, straight men do not jump at every woman who has her lips exposed.
My point is that there are many parts of the body designed or remodeled by sexual selection (you could certainly argue that EVERY body part is shaped by this). And by the way, mens’ bodies have been acted upon by selection just as much as womens’ bodies; people tend to forget this for some reason. There’s (limited) evidence that fresh male sweat contains a pheromone that is highly attractive to women, but somehow most men manage to go to the gym without daily harassment.
(And I don’t want to make it sound as if men DON’T get harassed, either. I’ve seen it happen, and it is just as inexcusable.)
Just because breasts might have gotten bigger over time due in part to increase sexual attractiveness does not mean that a) every straight man is uncontrollably attracted to breasts (many straight men aren’t very interested in them at all) or b) that that attraction means that they cannot control their behavior, that they are acting on ‘instinct.’
I feel like this is a misrepresentation of animals, too; an animal generally does not go into a frothing fit every time it sees a genital of the opposite sex. Quite the contrary, there’s a little thing called chase-away selection that suggests that some animals gradually build up a resistance to the attractiveness of certain sexy parts, which then evolve to become even more ludicrous in response (think of a peacock’s tail).
Saying “I’ve evolved to be this way, I can’t help it” is a lie, and a stupid one.
Do you have a favorite species of bat or do you love them all?
My god why would you even ask this this is a DIFFICULT QUESTION UGH
I mean some of my favorites are bats I’ve actually gotten to handle. Like the first bat I ever held was a big brown bat and they are so nasty and mean and loud and I love them.
(I took these pictures so they aren’t the best.)
in a bag waiting to be weighed
and this gal was a very upset juvenile.
And similarly I also love Eastern red bats because they are gorgeous little demons (that I got to hold).
“why bat god”
Expressing rage over being banded.
And last on the list of “bats I love mainly because I got to touch them” is the hoary bat. GIANT GORGEOUS CHILD
(This one is still a juvenile!)
But I have a lot of other secret bat loves… the wooly false vampire bat, for example.
(Actually, I did get to touch this gal, since she was shown to us at a demonstration in Belize.)
Also a fan of pallid bats, ghost bats, and Egyptian fruit bats… lesser short-tails obviously… banana bats… vampire bats in general… tube-lipped nectar bats… jamaican fruit bats… aaaaaa this question is too hard and I hate you. I’VE NEVER MET A BAT I DIDN’T LIKE, let’s put it that way.
Are you asking what sounds foxes make? It really depends on the species. If we’re sticking to the ‘true’ foxes in Vulpes, it can really range from doglike yips and yaps to the ungodly sound of the red fox bark. Some red fox more barks etc can be heard here.
Vulpes vulpes can also make some more endearing sounds, however, like these. (I believe this is a playful/affectionate sound. I also don’t recommend keeping one of these guys as a pet, even if they are pretty cute.)
You can hear a gray fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus (not a true fox), barking here.
And the unearthly sounds of the fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) can be heard here (though again, I’d strongly recommend against keeping one as a pet.)
Of course, if you really want to get into weird fox sounds, I’d listen to Vulpes ylvis, the Norwegian fox, which sounds something along these lines:
Of course, that’s in the northern region of Norway, the southern variety sounds more like:
It’s a bit hard to describe, so you can listen to a few vocalizations in this video.
My bird poops on command - kind of. We say, Go Poop, and he either poops, does the I Don't Have To Fucking Poop dance, or demonstrates that he literally has no shits to give. It's kind of our compromise. Prove you won't shit on the rug, and you can come along on the arm trip. He also Poop Dances when he has to poop as an alert to bring him to the Pooping Corner of his cage. He only has one. I thought you'd find this interesting.
i have always wondered whyanimals like dogs and cats have litters at a time while humans tend to have a single children? sorry if this is a stupid question
It is not at all a stupid question- it’s a question a lot of biologists have devoted a lot of time examining, after all, since it says a lot about an animal’s lifestyle.
The amount of offspring an animal has depends on several factors, but the main one is how many of them, on average, will survive to adulthood. For an animal like a mouse, for instance, which is basically food on four legs, it makes sense to have LOTS of babies. For an animal with tiny, tasty free-swimming larvae like a crab, it makes sense to have a HORDE of tiny babies.
For an animal like you- like a human- while it certainly isn’t the case that all human babies are bound to survive to adulthood, there’s a much higher chance of it. So instead of investing energy into having MANY babies, we invest energy into making our ONE baby be very big and strong. We can afford to do that if there’s less of a chance of it dying. If a mama mouse put all her time and effort into raising one pinky, it could very easily amount to nothing if pinky gets gobbled by a snake.
There is actually a name for these two strategies (and I should also mention that it is a spectrum, and those are the extreme ends)- r and K strategies. “r-selected” refers to organisms who have lots of babies, while “K-selected” refers to organisms who throw a lot of investment into only a couple at a time.
This graph shows what i mean. The y-axis is how many individuals of a species survive, and the x-axis is increasing age. So you can see that the amount of surviving oysters decreases sharply with age, versus the amount of humans.
r-selected organisms also have a number of other common traits, such as a short lifespan, small body size, and rapid sexual maturity. K-selected organisms are often the opposite, being large, slow-aging, and long lived. But these are not exclusive by any means; you can have very long lived animals like sea turtles, for instance, still producing great masses of eggs simply because the infant mortality is so high. Or you can have a tiny mouse-sized bat that lives 20 years to the mouse’s 2 and has one baby each season.
Basically, a lot of evolutionary factors go into an organism’s litter size.
Figures taken from thesetwo pages, which both talk in more detail about K and r selection.
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.