The owl – a symbol of wisdom or foolishness?

  Different cultures perceive animals in very different ways. In Western cultures, the owl is a symbol of wisdom. The feature serving to indicate cleverness is the owl’s huge eyes – what lies behind these eyes is of little interest to the humans. The owl ‘looking wise’ means for them the owl ‘is’ wise. I... Continue Reading →


What humans have got wrong about hares

As mad as a March hare – completely mad, crazy – is a common English idiom based on a popular belief about hares’ odd behaviour (including boxing at other hares, jumping vertically and so on) during mating/breeding season. Since the 16th century, the phrase has been found in many texts, for example: - in Sir... Continue Reading →

What humans have got wrong about mice

Mice love cheese – Yes, but only when there is nothing else on the offer. They prefer high-sugar diet of grain and fruit. If there is nothing to eat, mice would consume anything – meat, dead bodies, their own tails, and yes, cheese. References: Hanlon, M. & Fryer, J. (2006) ‘Of mice and myths’

Are animals ‘telepathic’?

Freud defined telepathy as a primitive form of communication made dormant by language; in other words, it is the ability mentally to communicate thoughts, emotions, words or images silently to another person. We can get a better understanding of ‘non-verbal communication proper’, is we study animals’ communication, most of which is non-verbal. They do produce... Continue Reading →

Dating tips from the animal kingdom

The Raptor Lab

Got a hot date?

If it’s with a human, you’ll probably have to rely on the classic wooing strategies: flowers, chocolates, dinner and dancing, smelling good, etc.

But in the animal kingdom, courtship often has a different flavor. I combed back through the archives of New Scientist’s Zoologger, a weekly column about extraordinary animals, and turned up some unusual techniques that other creatures use to seduce their chosen mate.

Bugs stab their sweethearts in the stomach.

Male bed bugs and bat bugs use sharp penises to stab their partners in the abdomen and deliver sperm directly into the blood. Bean weevils, who have huge and spiny penises, also lacerate their mates during sex.

Koalas use a sexy voice.

Koalas bellow to attractive females in an unusually deep voice. Their mating song, which sounds “more like a series of burps and snores,” is 20 times lower than scientists would expect the little…

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What humans have got wrong about goldfish

Goldfish have a four-second memory: The goldfish not only have a memory span of up to three month but also can tell the time – goldfish can distinguish between morning, afternoon and evening, and are able to learn a routine, for example, to press a lever for food at a particular time.

What humans have got wrong about donkeys

  Donkeys are considered as stubborn and stupid. In reality, donkeys are very clever, loyal and brave – they wouldn’t back down even when confronted by a large animal (e.g., a lion). In the past, in Africa humans employed donkeys to guard cattle.

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