Animal Intelligence

Why do animals like to play?

Say you're walking your dog in the park, when he comes face to snout with another dog. An intricate dance begins, as if each movement was precisely choreographed. The dogs visually inspect each other, sniff each other, walk circles around each other. And then the fight begins.

From The MIT Press Reader

One of the key findings over the past decades is that our number faculty is deeply rooted in our biological ancestry, and not based on our ability to use language. Considering the multitude of situations in which we humans use numerical information, life without numbers is inconceivable.

Epic 7,500-mile cuckoo migration wows scientists

One of the longest migrations recorded by any land bird is about to be completed. Using a satellite tag, scientists have monitored a cuckoo that has just flown more than 7,500 miles (12,000km) from southern Africa to its breeding ground in Mongolia.

A Bee C: Scientists translate honeybee queen duets

Scientists using highly sensitive vibration detectors have decoded honeybee queens' "tooting and quacking" duets in the hive. Worker bees make new queens by sealing eggs inside special cells with wax and feeding them royal jelly.

When two baboon troops go to war

Two troops of baboons have been filmed going to war, with hundreds of monkeys entering into a pitched battle. The fight, filmed by the BBC Natural History Unit, appears to be triggered by male baboons attempting to steal females from the harems of rivals.

Unlocking meerkats' alarm calls

Researchers from Switzerland and South Africa suggest "non-linearities" make the cries "unpredictable", distinguishing them from other calls. However, it is uncertain how the meerkats produce the "non-linear" vocal sounds, the team adds.

Gorillas 'ape humans' over games

Gorillas play competitive games just like humans, according to scientists at the University of St Andrews. The gorillas at San Francisco Zoo were observed over a period of five years playing with a variety of equipment.

Monkey invents new way to break into coconuts

The monkey, known as 'Pinocchio' by the scientists studying him due to his big nose, first rolls a nut down to the docks on the island of Cayo Santiago, which lies to the east of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea. He then throws the nut up into the air and watches it smash onto concrete.

Chimps use cleavers and anvils as tools to chop food

For the first time, chimpanzees have been seen using tools to chop up and reduce food into smaller bite-sized portions. Chimps in the Nimba Mountains of Guinea, Africa, use both stone and wooden cleavers, as well as stone anvils, to process Treculia fruits.

Ants work with acacia trees to prevent elephant damage

Researchers from the Universities of Wyoming and Florida, in the US, carried out a series of studies in Laikipia District in Central Kenya, and Tsavo National Park, also in Kenya. Tree cover was decreasing while elephant numbers were increasing.

Animals 'are moral beings'

Some animals can feel and think in ways not too dissimilar from us, welfare campaigners say. They say there is evidence of altruism, with some animals acting disinterestedly for the good of others.

How city life can breed smarter pests

Some thought they would be the Fort Knox of bins. Well, sort of. Resistant to marauding raccoons, or at least that was the hope. To residents of Toronto, Canada, raccoons are a familiar pest. The mammals adore rummaging through household waste, seeking out scraps of food.

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