[This is a quick summary of the second chapter of my book, Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals on play and recreation. The thesis of the book is that we can better understand human behaviors by studying their equivalents in other animals.] Isn’t playing a pointless distraction for an animal? At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any … More What is the value of play?
A new study of woodpeckers adds nuance to the relationship between brain power and social interactions. … More From Woodpeckers to Apes: Competition Drives the Correlation between Brain Size and Group Size
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
That “guilty dog” look is the product of millions of years of evolution and is actually a sophisticated social communiqué. … More Borrowed Signals: A Discussion of the “Guilty Dog” Look
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?
A population of Mountain Gorillas recently underwent a complete upheaval in the most central aspects of their gender-based social structures. If they can do it, so can we. … More What Mountain Gorillas Can Teach Us about Gendered Behaviors
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
Traumatic memories are especially prone to distortion and exaggeration over time, complicating recovery of PTSD. But could this phenomenon have once brought evolutionary value? … More Why does Trauma Cause Memory Distortion?