‘Birds and bees’

It’s hard to believe now (when the government’s approved the sexual education for 5-year-olds) that there were times when parents and teachers were embarrassed even to mention the words ‘sex’, ‘sexual intercourse’ and ‘reproduction’. As usual, humans turned to animals to ‘take the blame’ for something they were mortified to admit – as if they... Continue Reading →

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One of the idioms – illustrating illogical human logic

Birds of a feather: individuals of similar character. While the original meaning of it was very logical (‘birds of a feather flock together’, i.e. the birds of the same species live together), tearing of a part of the proverb to use it as a separate idiom with a different meaning (individuals of similar character) makes... 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.

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