animal intelligence

All posts tagged animal intelligence

I received a Dear John letter from my blog. I’ve decided that I’d better spend some time working on our relationship or else it might leave me for good!

So here, for your approval, is video and a news article about an octopus that nearly drowned one of the scientists observing it. No, silly, not in a 40,000 Leagues Under the Sea kind of way. The scientist was so surprised at the antics of the little sucker(s) that he almost drowned trying to laugh and scuba drive at the same time!

King Arthur of Monty Python fame might be surprised to learn that it’s not swallows who carry coconuts!

Thre’s a few cool things going on in the animal world. The first is a new study about spiders that shows some of them decorate their webs with life-sized replicas of themselves!

“I don’t know of any animal that actively builds a decoy of itself. Our study seems to be the first to empirically demonstrate the function of animal-made decoys,” says Tso.

The decoys worked, too. More often than not, a wasp would attack a decoy rather than the spider, thinking it to be a tasty meal.

But all wasp strikes on spiders living on undecorated webs were directed straight at the spider.

“Decorations built by Cyclosa spiders function as a conspicuous anti-predator device instead of a camouflaging device. The benefit of successful escape from predator attack seems to outweigh the cost of increased detection,” says Tso.

This next is actually old news, but it’s the first I’d heard of it. Rats laugh. That’s right…rats can actually express delight through laughter!

Yes, apparently there is. The slime mold’s intelligence has been proven.

In their experiment, biophysicist Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido University and colleagues manipulated the environment of Physarum slime-mold amoebas (near right). As the cells crawled across an agar plate, the researchers subjected them to cold, dry conditions for the first 10 minutes of every hour. During these cool spells, the cells slowed down their motion. After three cold snaps the scientists stopped changing the temperature and humidity and watched to see whether the amoebas had learned the pattern. Sure enough, many of the cells throttled back right on the hour in anticipation of another bout of cold weather. When conditions stayed stable for a while, the slime-mold amoebas gave up on their hourly braking, but when another single jolt of cold was applied, they resumed the behavior and correctly recalled the 60-minute interval. The amoebas were also able to respond to other intervals, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes.

The jury’s still out on the rest of us, though.