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
90 posts

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  • April 18, 2016
  • 03:32 PM
  • 155 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
  • 227 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
  • 251 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
  • 230 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
  • 232 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
  • 355 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
  • 218 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
  • 334 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
  • 342 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
  • 519 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
  • 701 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
  • 468 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
  • 739 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
  • 736 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
  • 517 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
  • 584 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 »

  • February 9, 2015
  • 11:21 AM
  • 802 views

The Beginnings of Jurassic Park: Dinosaur Blood Discovered? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Samantha VoldThe classic tale of Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs once again walked the earth has tickled the fancy of many a reader. Dinosaur DNA preserved in a fossilized mosquito was used to bring these giants back to life. But in real life, it was previously thought that there was no possible way for organic materials to be preserved, that they often degraded within 1 million years if not rapidly attacked by bacteria and other organisms specialized in decomposition. Skin and other soft tiss........ Read more »

Schweitzer, M. (2010) Blood from Stone. Scientific American, 303(6), 62-69. DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican1210-62  

  • February 2, 2015
  • 10:12 AM
  • 532 views

Melatonin is Not a Magic Pill

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

European hamsters showed us that there is more to annual body rhythms than melatonin. Image by Agnieszka Szeląg at Wikimedia Commons.Many animals undergo seasonal physiological changes in order to ensure that their babies are born during a time of more abundant food and milder weather and to help their bodies prepare for harsh winter conditions. In order to precisely time these physiological changes with the seasons, most animals have evolved to respond to the most reliable marker for time of y........ Read more »

Monecke, S., Sage-Ciocca, D., Wollnik, F., & Pevet, P. (2013) Photoperiod Can Entrain Circannual Rhythms in Pinealectomized European Hamsters. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 28(4), 278-290. DOI: 10.1177/0748730413498561  

  • January 26, 2015
  • 01:26 PM
  • 696 views

The Bed Bug’s Piercing Penis (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Rachael Pahl Sex is a dangerous, but necessary, part of life. Across the animal kingdom, there are a multitude of things that can go wrong. You could be injured in a fight by someone who wants to steal your mate, or maybe your partner eats you because you’re taking too long. Either way, nature must have a pretty good reason for the traumatizing effects of sex. A male bed bug traumatically inseminates a female. Image by Rickard Ignell at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciencespo........ Read more »

Morrow, E., & Arnqvist, G. (2003) Costly traumatic insemination and a female counter-adaptation in bed bugs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 270(1531), 2377-2381. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2003.2514  

  • January 12, 2015
  • 10:24 AM
  • 539 views

Collective Personality and Our Environment

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

We are all familiar with the concept of the personality of an individual. We are less familiar with group- or collective personalities (although most teachers can tell you at length about the personalities of each of their classes). The concept is the same: whereas an individual personality relates to an individual’s consistent behaviors across time and contexts, a collective personality relates to a group’s consistent behaviors across time and contexts. Collective personalities can be stron........ Read more »

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