It’s becoming increasingly clear that animals do a great deal of social learning, which gives insight into how humans became culturally modern. … More Social Learning in Animals: Implications for the Evolution of Human Intelligence
Fear is a powerful motivator. It’s also a very interesting social behavior that can be either genetically programmed, socially learned, or both. … More Dominance Status Affects the Transmission of Fear
The “pain grimace” is quite similar in many mammals, but where did it come from and why do we do it? … More Why do We and Other Animals Wince When in Pain?
Animal behaviorists have recently begun to methodically study whether animals have individual personalities. Work on the Barbary Macaque demonstrates that there are indeed personality types among primates. … More The Charming Personalities of Barbary Macaques
What’s in a voice? A lot, it seems. Certain vocal properties correlate with physical measures that serve as proxy indicators of health, fertility, and attractiveness of females … More Properties of our Voice Encode Information about Health, Fertility, and Body Shape
Professor Con Slobodchikoff’s life work with prairie dogs has revealed that their complicated system of calls can communicate sophisticated and detailed information. … More A Career Studying the Sophisticated Vocabulary of Prairie Dogs
(A longer discussion of animal communication can be found in my book.) Mandrills are, literally, one of the most colorful creatures on earth and certainly the most colorful primates. Their striking faces are matched only by the bright coloring of their hindquarters. (Their genitals are colorful, too, if you must know!) The coloring is part … More The Birth of a Cultural Meme: The “Do Not Disturb” Gesture in Mandrills
(A long discussion of animal communication can be found in my book.) In the last 40 years, there have been many apes that have been taught to communicate with humans using sign language or other means, but the most famous among them are Koko the gorilla, Washoe the chimpanzee, and Kanzi the bonobo. These are … More Koko, Washoe, and Kanzi: Three Apes with Human Vocabulary
Humans like to think of ourselves as the only animal that speaks to each other using language. It’s one of the things that “separates us from the animals,” so the saying goes. However, we already know that lots of other animals communicate with each other using vocal-auditory communication. Further, we’re beginning to learn that other … More Did Neanderthals Speak?
(A longer discussion of animal communication can be found in my book.) It’s no surprise that animals communicate with one another, but we normally think of animal communication as between members of their own species. It turns out that predators and their prey have evolved elaborate systems of communication as well. I am dangerous! A … More Signaling Theory: How Prey Animals Communicate with their Predators