The Scorpion and the Frog

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Rats giggle when they’re tickled and flatworms fence with their penises. Who knew? Explore the science behind animal behavior and see where we fit in this quirky world.

Miss Behavior
94 posts

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  • June 20, 2016
  • 09:12 AM
  • 102 views

Mosquitoes Don’t Like Parasites Either (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Maranda CardielA photograph of Culex pipiens, the species of mosquito that the researchers used in their experiment. Source: David Barillet-Portal at Wikimedia Commons.Everybody hates mosquitoes. They are annoying, persistent, and make us itch like crazy. Sometimes there are so many of them that we are afraid to go outside unless we want to risk getting covered in spots and scratching ourselves all over for the next week. And if that wasn’t enough, they can also carry dangerous diseases wi........ Read more »

Lalubin, F., Bize, P., van Rooyen, J., Christe, P., & Glaizot, O. (2012) Potential evidence of parasite avoidance in an avian malarial vector. Animal Behaviour, 84(3), 539-545. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.06.004  

  • June 6, 2016
  • 12:36 PM
  • 219 views

Love, War and Genital Shape

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

The size and shape of your junk may depend on how much sex your ancestors had… that is, at least, if you are a burying beetle. Buring beetles caught in the act. Photo by Jena Johnson. Burying beetles are unusual among insects in that they provide parental care and are often monogamous. When burying beetle pairs find a small dead bird or rodent, they pluck it bald, coat it in antibacterial and antifungal body secretions, and dig a hole around it. The female lays her eggs around the carcass-ba........ Read more »

  • May 30, 2016
  • 03:54 PM
  • 214 views

The Harm of Verbal Promiscuity

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Eastern chimpanzees don't want to be judged. Image by Ikiwaner at Wikimedia.com.Whether they have one true love for life, multiple partners, or are free-loving, animals have many different mating systems. We have different scientific terms for these different mating systems, and most of these terms have very specific meanings. An animal is socially monogamous when it has one exclusive mating relationship, but maybe has sex with others outside of that relationship. It is sexually monogamous when ........ Read more »

Elgar, M., Jones, T., & McNamara, K. (2013) Promiscuous words. Frontiers in Zoology, 10(1), 66. DOI: 10.1186/1742-9994-10-66  

  • May 9, 2016
  • 01:34 PM
  • 265 views

The Princess IS the Frog (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Hayley TrzinskiImage by Hayley TrzinskiThe Princess and the Frog is a very fun and imaginative children’s story… but not when pesticides are involved. Have you ever wondered how dangerous pesticides can be? Well, pesticides can harm more than just pests and weeds, and in the case of frogs, many pesticides and herbicides are causing problems. Atrazine, a chemical commonly used as an herbicide, can cause reproduction in male African clawed frogs to be impossible. In some cases, atrazine i........ Read more »

Hayes, T., Khoury, V., Narayan, A., Nazir, M., Park, A., Brown, T., Adame, L., Chan, E., Buchholz, D., Stueve, T.... (2010) Atrazine induces complete feminization and chemical castration in male African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(10), 4612-4617. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0909519107  

Mnif, W., Hassine, A., Bouaziz, A., Bartegi, A., Thomas, O., & Roig, B. (2011) Effect of Endocrine Disruptor Pesticides: A Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 8(12), 2265-2303. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph8062265  

  • April 18, 2016
  • 03:32 PM
  • 365 views

Are Territory Disputes Between Male Butterflies Influenced by Motivation?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Nick Gremban Male speckled wood butterflies will “perch” on leavesand ends of twigs to look out over their territory for females. However, they have been known to be quite aggressivewith any intruding males! Photo by Alvesgaspar atWikimedia Commons, modified by Nick Gremban.Think about any territorial animal. Now think about its aggressiveness while it is defending its territory. Was your animal a butterfly? No? You mean the colorful wings and the natural association with flowers d........ Read more »

Bergman, M., Olofsson, M., & Wiklund, C. (2010) Contest outcome in a territorial butterfly: the role of motivation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1696), 3027-3033. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0646  

  • March 14, 2016
  • 11:17 AM
  • 333 views

Can You Feel the Love Tonight? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Maggie NannenhornIf you’re like me, you never truly realize how quiet winter is until all the sounds of spring come back in a chorus of celebration. Between the birds, crickets, and frogs, you can really hear the love in the air. So you can hear the love, but can you feel the love? Wood frogs are known for their chorus of calls that sound like a duck laughing. Seriously, tell a duck a good knock-knock joke and that is what a male wood frog sounds like when trying to attract a mate. He make........ Read more »

  • February 29, 2016
  • 12:53 PM
  • 361 views

Need a Hand? Just Grow it Back! How Salamanders Regenerate Limbs (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Maranda CardielHow cool would it be if you could regenerate your own body parts? Just imagine: you are chopping up some carrots for dinner, but whoops! You accidentally cut off your thumb! No worries, it’ll grow back in a few weeks, good as new and fully functional. No need to take a trip to the hospital and pay all of those annoying medical costs. That all sounds pretty nifty, but that can’t actually happen, right? Tissue regeneration on that large of a scale is something you can only fi........ Read more »

Godwin, J., Pinto, A., & Rosenthal, N. (2013) Macrophages are required for adult salamander limb regeneration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(23), 9415-9420. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1300290110  

  • February 22, 2016
  • 10:15 AM
  • 310 views

Let’s Hope She Doesn’t Have Twins! (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Eric VanNatta Of all the oddball bird species in our world, the brown kiwi surly waddles in amongst the flock. Found only in the forests of New Zealand, this small flightless bird belongs to an ancient group of birds called the ratites. Joined by ostriches, emus, cassowaries and rheas, the ratites are all flightless and dressed in shaggy feathers. In addition, the ratites have all been linked to a common ancestor (simply referred to as the ratite) that was isolated after earth’s continents........ Read more »

  • February 15, 2016
  • 12:41 PM
  • 318 views

Infidelity in Nature: a Lion’s Story (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Devin ZingsheimWhen people think of mating, especially in the case of humans, they often think of one man marrying and mating with a single female. While this provides a nice image of mating, it is not always true. In the case of humans, both males and females may stray from this image and mate with other individuals. For example, a female in a relationship may become attracted to and mate with someone she finds exciting, like a rebel. These exciting individuals are the outsiders because they........ Read more »

  • February 8, 2016
  • 12:41 PM
  • 507 views

Why Ask for Directions? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

by Anna Schneider For the iconic monarch butterfly, the shorter days in fall mean it’s time to pack up and head south to a warmer climate! Just like clockwork, the Eastern population of monarch butterflies makes a 2000 mile journey to their winter paradise roosts in central Mexico. The journey in itself is one of the greatest migrations among all animals. But here’s the catch: none of these butterflies has made this trip before. Several generations of monarchs have come and gon........ Read more »

  • February 1, 2016
  • 10:28 AM
  • 287 views

A True Underdog…or Undermouse

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Spencer Henkel People love a good underdog story, and nowhere is that image more embodied than in the rodents that live in deserts. In the desert there are two main problems that animals must face: it is way too hot and way too dry. You would think that rodents, the smallest of mammals, would not have much difficulty surviving in this kind of habitat. You might think that they would need far less food and water than their larger neighbors like reptiles and birds. Unfortunately, this is no........ Read more »

  • January 18, 2016
  • 11:29 AM
  • 452 views

Catch Him If You Can

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Caitlin LockardWhen playing Frisbee with your dog, do you ever wonder how they have the ability to catch it so effortlessly? The art of being able to figure out where something like a Frisbee is headed requires some crazy math skills. Ostracods are one kind of animal that puts their wicked math skills to the test while finding a mate.The image above of a female ostracod was provided by Trevor Rivers.You’ve never heard of an ostracod you say? Ostracods are small crustaceans, which basicall........ Read more »

  • December 14, 2015
  • 11:54 AM
  • 426 views

Why Are Cats Scared of Cucumbers?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Have you seen the video of cats’ terrified responses to cucumbers? No?! Then check this out:This hilarious video has led many people to try this on their own cats… to varying degrees of success. And it has led to some curious questions: Why are these cats so terrified of a cucumber? And why isn’t my cat?The fear of something specific (like a cucumber) can either be innate (as in, you’re born with it) or learned. For many animal species, it would make sense to be born with a natural fear ........ Read more »

  • September 28, 2015
  • 12:48 PM
  • 653 views

What Animals Contageously Yawn?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Does this sight make you want to yawn? A yawning Japanese macaque by Daisuke Tashiro at Wikimedia Commons.Do you think it would make other animals want to yawn? Many animals yawn spontaneously, but yawning in response to sensing or thinking about someone else doing it may be a completely different thing. Contagious yawning requires a sense of social connection and emotional empathy that not all species share. So far, scientists have found experimental evidence of contagious yawning in humans, ch........ Read more »

  • August 31, 2015
  • 10:09 AM
  • 858 views

Cow Pies Can Make You Smarter and Less Stressed

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

It seems like everyone is running around buying school supplies and books, registering for classes, and fretting about how hard it is going to be to learn another whole year’s worth of stuff. The secret to success, it turns out, may lie in cow dung.A cow pie. Photo taken by Jeff Vanuga at the USDA available at Wikimedia Commons.Recent research has highlighted the important role that microbes living in animal digestive tracts have on host animals’ health and behavior. This influence of our gu........ Read more »

  • June 15, 2015
  • 12:50 PM
  • 571 views

Loving to Death

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

The brown antechinus may look like a mouse - but that is where the similarities end. Photo by Glen Fergus at Wikimedia.Although most animal species breed multiple times throughout their lives, a few oddballs put everything they've got into a single reproductive season, after which they promptly die. This is a rare strategy (for obvious reasons), especially in mammals. One Australian mammal, the brown antechinus, is just odd enough to pull it off.The brown antechinus is a small insectivorous mous........ Read more »

  • March 30, 2015
  • 11:32 AM
  • 830 views

Gut Feelings

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

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 a........ Read more »

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  

  • March 23, 2015
  • 10:34 AM
  • 815 views

Komodo Dragons: Their Bite is Worse than Their Bark

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Shelly Sonsalla Komodo Dragon. Image by Arturo de Frias Marques on Wikimedia. Komodo dragons are the world’s largest living lizard and can be found only on select islands in the Indonesian archipelago. These massive lizards can grow to be 10 feet in length and up to 150 pounds! Their natural prey includes wild boars, deer, and water buffalo—animals which may outweigh them by several hundred pounds. So how does a lizard, even such a large one, manage to take down prey so much larger tha........ Read more »

Fry, B., Wroe, S., Teeuwisse, W., van Osch, M., Moreno, K., Ingle, J., McHenry, C., Ferrara, T., Clausen, P., Scheib, H.... (2009) A central role for venom in predation by Varanus komodoensis (Komodo Dragon) and the extinct giant Varanus (Megalania) priscus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(22), 8969-8974. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0810883106  

Merchant, M., Henry, D., Falconi, R., Muscher, B., & Bryja, J. (2013) Antibacterial activities of serum from the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis). Microbiology Research, 4(1), 4. DOI: 10.4081/mr.2013.e4  

Montgomery JM, Gillespie D, Sastrawan P, Fredeking TM, & Stewart GL. (2002) Aerobic salivary bacteria in wild and captive Komodo dragons. Journal of wildlife diseases, 38(3), 545-51. PMID: 12238371  

  • March 9, 2015
  • 11:25 AM
  • 593 views

Vole Pee: An Epiphany (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Nate Kueffer You’re driving down the road, looking out the window, and you see a large raptor hovering above a field. Have you ever wondered what exactly the raptor could see that you couldn’t? Well, it is thought that raptors may be able to sense ultraviolet light and use it to track voles through urine and feces trails. A hovering kestrel, possibly tracking a vole. Photo by Mark Likner at Flickr. Ultraviolet light is a non-detectable form of radiation by the human eye and is similar to ........ Read more »

Viitala, J., Korplmäki, E., Palokangas, P., & Koivula, M. (1995) Attraction of kestrels to vole scent marks visible in ultraviolet light. Nature, 373(6513), 425-427. DOI: 10.1038/373425a0  

  • February 23, 2015
  • 10:06 AM
  • 656 views

Effects of Iron Deficiency in Female Runners (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Ana Breit When people think of nutritional deficiencies, they probably picture women with goiters due to lack of iodine or other newsworthy examples. In reality, the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States is iron deficiency. Iron Deficiency (ID) is especially common in endurance athletes, especially female athletes. Start of 2013 Roy Griak Invitational Cross Country Meet at the University of Minnesota. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Larson.Iron is the metal in humans that ........ Read more »

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