What amazed me most about that discovery is that each dolphin waited for the other one to complete its speech before responding. I’m impressed that dolphins are polite in conversation.
In my family we all talk at the same time. Though we don’t always hear what the other person is saying, we don’t get offended if someone speaks while we speak. It was many years before I realized the behavior is impolite and I still struggle to wait and listen.
I should take a lesson from dolphins.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)
And now for something completely different — not a wild animal but a wild result.
Last week Science Magazine reported the first ever scientific proof that a cat can imitate human behavior. A Japanese cat named Ebisu demonstrated it in a “Do As I Do” experiment.
“Do As I Do” is a training technique in which the owner gets the pet’s attention, performs an action, and then says “Do It.” The animal learns that Do It means copy me and repeats the action.
Ebisu’s owner, Higaki, said the cat learned easily because of her high food motivation.
Higaki showed that Ebisu could copy familiar actions, like opening a plastic drawer and biting a rubber string. Then she asked the cat to imitate two new behaviors [for which she had not been trained]. While standing before Ebisu, who sat on a countertop next to a cardboard box, Higaki raised her right hand and touched the box. At other times, she bent down and rubbed her face against the box.
As you can see in the video, Ebisu watches her owner place her hand on the box and tap it. Her owner stands straight, then says “Do It.” Ebisu places her paw on the box and taps it, then immediately asks for a treat. Of course she gets one. Good Kitty!
For more than 173 years humans and dolphins have worked together to catch fish on the coast of Laguna, Brazil. Dolphins initiated the cooperation some time before 1847 and taught humans what to do.
The dolphins hunt by herding shoals of mullet in the estuary. The fish would escape into shallow water except that the humans are helping.
Fishermen stand in the water with cast-nets and wait for a dolphin to signal them. When the signal comes, the fishermen throw their nets and catch many fish. The rest of the fish flee to deeper water where the dolphins are waiting to eat them.
Humans and dolphins both catch more fish than they would working alone.
Red foxes and short-tailed weasels (called “stoats” in the UK) are both carnivorous predators.
In the U.K. red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are twice as tall as stoats (Mustela erminea) and outweigh them by 13 pounds (23 times heavier!) but stoats are fierce and almost fearless, killing prey four times larger than themselves. In the UK, male stoats easily kill European rabbits (photo here).
What happens when a fox hunts a stoat? This video tweeted by @kremington11 provides one answer.
Meanwhile, edible plants have not increased exponentially and they can’t keep up with the heavy browsing. Jewelweed is a deer favorite so it’s routinely “mowed” to ankle height.
A few individuals are able to sprout new leaves while the deer consume other areas but these recovering plants are few and far between.
This summer it’s hard to find a complete plant.
The situation bothers me but has posed real problems for Andrea Fetters of the University of Pittsburgh who is studying pollen-associated viruses in Impatiens capensis and Impatiens pallida. She has so few study objects in Schenley Park that she’s had to add study sites north of Pittsburgh where jewelweed thrives because deer aren’t so plentiful.
Unfortunately the number of deer in Schenley Park is not going down any time soon. Predators, other than cars, would solve the problem. My friend Andrea Boykowycz suggests cougars, the “Pitt panther” mascot. It would be fitting to have two in Panther Hollow. Well, we already do but they’re frozen in place.
Last week in Schenley Park I stopped by the Westinghouse Fountain to see swamp milkweed and a photogenic bumblebee.
My cellphone camera was able to capture it in flight!
As I left the fountain a doe crossed W Circuit Road and walked between parked cars to the woods beyond. A fawn soon followed but jumped back in fear before the cars and stopped in the road. Fortunately there was no traffic. It was joined by a second fawn.
The two approached me (I missed that shot) then turned away …
… and were joined by a second doe.
Eventually they all walked between parked cars and caught up with the first doe.
Schenley Park’s numerous deer aren’t afraid of people but they learn to fear cars at a very young age.
p.s. My cellphone can take nice closeups of bumblebees but fails on deer at a distance.
Some animals such as western grebes (above) and giant anteaters (below) carry their young piggyback.
Pigs don’t do this so why is it called piggyback?
The term began as two words that morphed into “piggy + back.” Here’s the origin from World Wide Words.
It started out in the sixteenth century as “pick pack,” carrying something on the back or shoulders. Pick is a medieval version of pitch, so it meant a load that was pitched on to a person’s back for carrying. … Piggy-back came along later in the century, with piggyback a modern loss of the hyphen
Last week I found an aspen lying in the creek that used to be its home. The cone shape of the stump means a beaver felled this tree.
Beaver evidence is common at Moraine State Park, Raccoon Creek and even at Pittsburgh’s North Shore and on Washington’s Landing island. What makes this scene unusual is that it’s in the heart of Frick Park.
The felled aspen is next to the new upper boardwalk on Frick Park’s Nine Mile Run Trail. (See the edge of boardwalk in the photo below.)
I’ve seen beaver evidence along the Monongahela River near Duck Hollow so I’m not surprised that a beaver swam or walked up Nine Mile Run. When he got to the boardwalk he found the perfect habitat: a shallow waterfall (man-made) and lots of trees to eat.
I haven’t seen the Frick Park beaver but I’ve seen a photo.
Songbirds have good reason to fear white-tailed deer. Contrary to popular belief, deer are not vegetarians. Though they forage on plants they will eat eggs and baby birds when they encounter them. Some people have seen it. Trails cams show the rest of us.
Be alert when you hear a songbird freak out in the presence of deer. There’s a reason. Learn more and see a video in this vintage article: Deer Are Not Vegetarians.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)