Category Archives: animal behavior

Close cheetah enounter of the first kind

All I know about this 5-minute video is that it was filmed at the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, next to the Serengeti, and that the tourists in this vehicle were lucky in two ways. Cheetahs don’t attack humans very often (but some do have rabies). h/t: Stephen

Lemurs use toxic millipedes as insecticides, get high as a byproduct

From BBC One program, “Spy in the Wild”, we learn that lemurs not only rub millipedes on their skin to deter insects (mostly mosquitoes who are repelled by the millipedes’ benzoquinones), but also seem to get high from chemicals in the ‘pedes. This isn’t just speculation: there’s research to support at least the insecticide part (see here). I’m not […]

Roadrunner nabs hummingbirds

Roadrunners don’t fly much; in fact, I’ve seen Greater Roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus) many times in the desert, but have never seen one leave the ground. After all, there’s a reason they’re called “roadrunners.” But this one did levitate. According to the Audubon News site, photographer Roy Dunn saw the possibility of a roadrunner snatching a hummingbird from […]

A bunch of turkeys circle a dead cat. WHY?

The Verge describes this video, showing a bunch of turkeys (there must be a formal name for such a group) circling a dead cat in the middle of the road, somewhere near Boston. Why are they doing this? The Verge suggests two explanations, neither of which I find all that convincing. But go to the link […]

Readers’ wildlife photos (with bonus science)

Reader Bruce Lyon, who happens to be a professor of ecology and evolution at the University of California at Santa Cruz (America’s most beautiful campus), sent a group of photos illustrating a research project, so we can haz some pictures and some science as well. His notes are indented: Golden-crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia atricapilla) are migratory songbirds that breed […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Cameron Way of Fort Collins, Colorado sent a passel of photos that, he said, depicted “playing” in his backyard. He identifies them as fox squirrels (Sciurus niger), but isn’t sure. When I asked him if they were playing or fighting, he responded, “I don’t know if they were fighting, but there was a lot of this, […]

A baby elephant’s first steps

I don’t know much about these videos except that they’re of African elephants (probably the bush elephant, Loxodontia africana). This one shows a baby elephant’s first halting steps, accompanied by loud complaining. Notice how both adults try to help it up. . . . and a 10-minute video of an elephant giving birth and the […]

Directionally asymmetrical eyes (and behavior) in a squid: left eye big, right eye small

Last week I wrote three posts (1, 2, and 3) on “directional asymmetry”: the phenomenon whereby an animal is asymmetrical in a way that shows “handedness”; that is, a trait is differentially expressed or developed on a consistent side of the body, either the right or the left. One example is the enlarged canine tooth of […]

Friday fun: River otter playing in the snow, “dubstep” made with bird sounds and lagniappe

Let’s finish the week seven days closer to death than we were last week, but maybe a bit happier. Have a river otter sliding on the snow. (I wonder if he’s having fun or doing what penguins do: sometimes moving by sliding on the belly.) I didn’t know what a “dubstep” was before, but now I […]

Gecko skins itself to escape predators

Some of you may find this gross, but it’s still a remarkable achievement of natural selection, and one of those weird things that abound in nature but most of which are yet to be described.  It’s the discovery of a “fish-scale” gecko that easily sheds its scales when caught, revealing a bizarre, naked reptile that […]