April 17, 2015

3:21 AM | Food odors and chemosignals in body odor
A Sniff of Happiness Excerpt: We observed that exposure to body odor collected from senders of chemosignals in a happy state induced a facial expression and perceptual-processing style indicative of happiness in the receivers of those signals. Our findings suggest...Read more
1:37 AM | Both Winning And Losing Fights Makes Flies More Aggressive
Many animals behave aggressively towards one another. This is usually when they are fighting for something like territory, mates or food.  However, an animal’s decision to become aggressive isn’t a... -- Read more on

April 16, 2015

4:16 PM | Lost Penguin Chicks Try To Find Their Way Home
King penguins are pretty social animals. Not only do they tend to hang out in a big group, but even within the group, they form little sub-groups; cliques of penguins who like to hang out together.... -- Read more on
3:50 PM | Teenagers Are No More Risk-Taking Than Children
For a change, I thought this week instead of writing about black widow spiders or praying mantids I’d write about an animal I often neglect: humans. A topic of conversation I often seem to stumble... -- Read more on

April 15, 2015

5:16 PM | FluffyScience at the Zoo
Hey everyone, FluffySciences will be at Edinburgh Zoo on Sunday talking about animal personality for Living Links‘ public engagement initiatives. If you fancy coming to the zoo, I’ll be at the lion enclosure at 10. Athena will not be. She’ll … Continue reading →

April 14, 2015

7:42 PM | The Biggest Brains in the Animal Kingdom
As humans, we’re proud of our big brains. But our brains aren’t nearly the biggest on earth. That distinction belongs to the sperm whale, whose brain on average weighs 17 pounds, about four times as much as a human’s. Elephants also have large brains that weigh on average 11 pounds. However, these animals are huge — what happens if one takes into account brain size relative to body size? Read more about what giant brains do for dolphins and elephants ar Brain Decoder: […]

April 13, 2015

7:41 PM | Can Fake Dogs Help Real Dogs?
Can we learn anything about a dog’s behavior around unfamiliar dogs with the use of a fake, stuffed dog? That is the question asked by a team of researchers in Massachusetts, who did a study comparing the responses of 45 shelter dogs to a live dog and a fake, plush, stuffed dog. The real dogs […]
2:40 PM | Help Protect African Rhinos! (A Guest Post)
by Celia Hein South Africa is a hotspot for rhino poaching, which is at an all-time high. Rhinos are critically endangered, and in South Africa alone, 1,215 were killed in 2014, which is one dead every 8 hours. South Africa is home to about 70% of the world’s remaining rhinos, and poaching has turned into a highly organized crime syndicate. In many cases, poachers use high-powered rifles, helicopters, and chainsaws. Many of them have had previous military training, and they’re […]

April 10, 2015

3:43 AM | Ending twenty years of debate?
The smelling of Hedione results in sex-differentiated human brain activity Excerpt: “Hedione exhibited significantly enhanced activation in limbic areas (amygdala, hippocampus) and elicited a sex-differentiated response in a hypothalamic region that is associated with hormonal release.” Reported as: Delicate magnolia...Read more

April 08, 2015

6:31 PM | Why Science Probably Hates You
There was a great article on Gawker recently about the Food Babe blog, calling out her bad science. Now I’ve never come across the Food Babe blog, as a scientist working in agriculture I don’t think our circles mix. The … Continue reading →
6:25 PM | Et tu, Michael Stoddart
How our NOSE shaped the human race: Ancestors lost their ability to detect sex pheromones to make men more faithful – and create the stable family unit Excerpt: “Our sense of smell evolved to make human pheromones undetectable” For contrast...Read more
4:54 PM | Blacklighting (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)
Know what makes for a good Wednesday evening?  This: First “blacklighting” night of the year!  (I’m using the quotes because we only had a mercury vapor light and no blacklights.) A bunch of my coworkers and several interns got together to see what comes to Prairie Ridge and it was a blast, right up until […]

April 06, 2015

6:53 PM | Healthy Dog Play in Georgia, Sweet Georgia
We’re just back from a short week with good friends Jim and Peg in northern Georgia. Heavenly! They live on a gorgeous 200 acre farm and we got to enjoy the fun of 80+ new born lambs, and none of the work, thanks to our hard working hosts. Maggie and Willie got to work sheep […]
2:33 PM | Behavioral Transplants
Lab mice show off their personalities. Image by Aaron Logan at Wikimedia.Twelve Canadian scientists accomplished something we’ve only heard about in science fiction: They transplanted a set of behaviors from one set of animals to another set of animals! And you’ll never guess what part of these animals they physically transplanted to achieve this feat: It was not their brains; It was not their hearts; It was their gut-contents! We have all heard the phrase “you are what you […]

April 05, 2015

9:35 PM | Swarm Sunday: 3/29/2015 – 4/4/2015
  Not surprisingly, given how early in the year it still is, there weren’t very many swarms reported last week: USA: Daytona Beach, FL Lakeland, FL And here is the US map:   Red pins are static swarms, yellow pins are migratory. Click the map to enlarge. I am not used to getting US reports this early in […]

April 04, 2015

3:48 AM | First Dragonflies and Damselflies of 2015 (Friday 5)
I’ve been looking forward to starting dragonfly programs at work again this year, so I’ve been trekking down to the pond occasionally to check on the dragonfly situation there.  I saw my first common green darner on March 24, which is pretty early.  When I went to check up on them yesterday, I saw 5 species!! […]

April 02, 2015

9:32 PM | March 2015: Shaun Killen, animal personality, and guppy food preferences
This month, I discover that a preference for a particular colour of food can be heritable, and I also have a chat with Niels Dingemanse from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology about how you test animal personality. In the Scientific spark, I talk to Shaun Killen, from the University of Glasgow, who tells me about his inspiration to become a scientist. Download the MP3Testing Great tit personality. Image from Great tits: birds […]
5:51 PM | 51 Shades of Grey: Misuse, Misunderstanding and Misinformation of the Concepts of “Dominance” and “Punishment”
Guest post by: Simon Gadbois, PhD, of the Canid Behaviour Research Laboratory at Dalhousie University (@GadboisSimon & Facebook). Simon Gadbois at SPARCS 2014Ha the 80’s… So nostalgic of the eighties. Finishing High School, starting University, the best and the worst music of the past 50 years. Speaking of the things we are not missing: mullets and pony tails (I am so sorry mother, everybody was doing it…), parachute pants and stonewashed jeans (please don’t tell […]
1:31 PM | My first post for Brain Decoder: Do Animals Know What They Know?
Humans engage in metacognition – thinking about thinking- all the time. But do animals know when they know, or don’t know, something? Some research points to yes in apes, monkeys, and dolphins. Read the whole story at the new Brain Decoder website: Do Animals Know What They Know?
3:41 AM | Dirty (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)
Ah, spring!  Warm weather, insects starting to come back out, and lots of new things to photograph.  And there’s nothing like a photo like this… … to let you know that you need to clean your windows!  Yuck… _______________ Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

April 01, 2015

6:11 PM | Pig’s For Dinner
One of the things that was raised during the MOOC was scientists’ usage of euphemistic language (and also, my dislike of provocative language when I’m trying to promote animal welfare). It’s a topic I’ve been interested in for a while … Continue reading →
3:06 PM | My 1st Zoologger Piece: Fish Keep Intruders Away With Boatwhistles
The Lusitanian toadfish has an extensive repertoire of sounds, including grunts, whistles, and croaks. New research shows one reason why male fish whistle: to keep intruding males out of their nests. Read the whole story at New Scientist: Zoologger: Bagpiper Fish Keeps Intruders Away With Song .

March 31, 2015

3:16 PM | Feb 2015: Damien Farine, penguins who can't taste, and shiny tree swallows
This month, I find out that penguins can’t tell the difference between savoury and sweet. I also chat with Sonia Van Wijk from The Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada, about what makes a male tree swallow attractive to a female who's on the look-out for more than one partner. And in the Scientific spark, I talk to social network whizz Damien Farine, from the University of Oxford, about his path into science. Download the MP3Adelie penguins […]

March 30, 2015

6:35 PM | Methylation and cell type differences
Methylation and cell type differences Watch for other articles from Nugent et al., that attest to the obvious involvement of epigenetic effects on RNA-mediated cell type differentiation. Eventually, these researchers will need to differentiate cause and effect that has been...Read more
3:32 PM | Gut Feelings
This boy may be influencing who he will marry when he grows up. Photo by Orrling at Wikimedia Commons.Animals (including humans) are swarming with microorganisms both on and in our bodies. Humans harbor so many different microorganisms that we have over 150 times more microbial genes than mammalian genes, and it is reasonable to suspect that this scenario is similar for most animals. But before you run to soak in a tub of hand sanitizer, you should realize that many of these microorganisms are […]

Cryan, J. & Dinan, T. (2015). More than a Gut Feeling: the Microbiota Regulates Neurodevelopment and Behavior, Neuropsychopharmacology, 40 (1) 241-242. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2014.224

Ezenwa, V., Gerardo, N., Inouye, D., Medina, M. & Xavier, J. (2012). Animal Behavior and the Microbiome, Science, 338 (6104) 198-199. DOI: 10.1126/science.1227412

2:41 AM | Swarm Sunday: 1/1/2015 – 3/28/2015
  Well, it’s that time of year again!  Swarms have already started popping up in the US, even though it’s still pretty early to have them.  Here’s the swarms that have been reported since the beginning of the year: USA: San Diego, CA Boynton Beach, FL Brandon, FL Fort Lauderdale, FL Brazil: Florianopolis, Santa Catarina […]

March 29, 2015

4:17 PM | Anatomy of a Break – Chronicles of Bobo Part One
The black and white cat you sometimes see in the Fluffy Sciences banner is called Bobo. I met Bobo in January 2010, back when she was called Bono, and was my friend Sophie’s cat. Only six months earlier I had … Continue reading →

March 28, 2015

7:26 PM | Olfaction, ecology, and intelligence
“I should think we might fairly gauge the future of biological science, centuries ahead by estimating the time it will take to reach a complete comprehensive understanding of odor. It may not seem a profound enough problem to dominate all...Read more
4:00 AM | Pond Dwellers (Friday Five)
I’ve been spending a lot of time photographing aquatic insects recently.  I’ve been very busy at work, so I find it relaxing to sit and watch my little tank full of insects in the evenings, observing their behaviors and photographing them.  Next week I’ll share another developmental series like the snail series I posted last week, […]

March 27, 2015

4:00 PM | Music to a Cat’s Ears
 A recently published study has shown that cats are attracted to music that was specifically designed for them. This is important work, given all the claims that are made about effect of music “designed for” dogs and cats. Although there are several interesting studies this issue, the studies have traditionally compared different types of musical […]
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