Tetrapod Zoology

When you discover something new on the internet, you usually find – minutes or hours later – that everyone else already knows about it, and you’re just late to the party. And so it is here. But what the hell. Petya Cosmos recently alerted me to this hilarious, and interesting, video. The drama, the suspense, the sheer, epic scale of what unfolds, the music from Predator… make sure you have the volume turned up loud… [NB - only watch the video if you can have the sound on too].



Maybe it’s just me, but I found the video hilarious (and brilliantly edited). Then again, I always did find cats unusually amusing.

i-82b502234f7f68af5fbf025ea8a3eb25-Hooded-crow-wikipedia-Nov-2010.jpg

The birds are Hooded crows Corvus cornix (that’s right, not the same species as the Carrion crow C. corone anymore: see Parkin et al. (2003)) [adjacent Hooded crow pic from wikipedia]. What the hell are they doing? It sure looks like they’re harassing the cats purely for their own entertainment (I’d like to know if we can rule out other possibilities: are they defending a patch of territory?, for example). Their taunting, teamwork, and ability to pre-empt the cat’s moves are all suggestive of a complex intelligence, but you already knew that this was true of crows. Pass me a New Caledonian crow C. moneduloides, I have some woodwork that needs doing. The video is also a nice introductory tutorial to domestic cat body language. Lesson 1: aggression and hostility.

Thanks to Petya, and well done to ignoramusky (sound director) and Akael88 (cameraman).

Ref – -

Parkin, D. T., Collinson, M., Helbig, A. J., Knox, A. G. & Sangster, G. 2003. The taxonomic status of Carrion and Hooded crows. British Birds 96, 274-290.

Comments

  1. #1 C. M. Kosemen
    November 30, 2010

    All this fight needs is a turtle, trudging about and angrily nipping at the cats’ tails.

  2. #2 Darren Naish
    November 30, 2010

    There’s always CG.

  3. #3 John M.
    November 30, 2010

    Could they be attracted to the motion of the tails? That’s what they seem to be going for.

  4. #4 Matt
    November 30, 2010

    They’ve edited the sound and or vision to match so well, what a fantastic job.
    Wonder why the crows only seemed interested in the light coloured cat?

  5. #5 Tim Morris
    November 30, 2010

    I thought the birds were mobbing the cats?

  6. #6 C. M. Kosemen
    November 30, 2010

    You are all getting it wrong. It’s an epic battle between black-colored animals and white-colored animals, you see.

  7. #7 Dave Hubble
    November 30, 2010

    Crows just hoping the loser will become carrion…

  8. #8 Andreas Johansson
    November 30, 2010

    Given the title, I was a little disappointed that it was mostly cat-vs-cat.

  9. #9 Albertonykus
    November 30, 2010

    Synapsids may think they’re strong and clever to be doing all the fighting, but it’s the maniraptors that are pulling the strings.

  10. #10 Darren Naish
    November 30, 2010

    In case anyone feels cheated, I probably should have pointed out that the archosaurs aren’t fighting the mammals, just encouraging things to step up a pace :)

  11. #11 chris y
    November 30, 2010

    You are all getting it wrong. It’s an epic battle between black-colored animals and white-colored animals, you see.

    This is a good point. The maniraptora seem to have been mobbing one cynodont to the exclusion of the other. Arguably the black cat was behaving opportunistically in attacking when the other one was distracted. But the question remains, why didn’t the crows harass them both equally once they were in the same place?

  12. #12 LuisDaniel
    November 30, 2010

    Archosaurs are no match for cats.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns8BBS0zU0E

    (Beware of the annoying coffee ad)

  13. #13 Gavin Golden
    November 30, 2010

    Is it possible the crows remember the light coloured cat having caused them some trouble before (stole their food/attempted to make them food) and thus are focusing on that cat while apparently aiding the dark cat, – i.e. The enemy of my enemy is my friend? I’ve read (and like most of us who grew up in the British Isles, observed) that crows are rather intelligent but I would still be surprised to see them distinguishing individuals of different species – even a species that has highly distinct individuals,

  14. #14 David Marjanović
    November 30, 2010

    I would still be surprised to see them distinguishing individuals of different species – even a species that has highly distinct individuals

    Other way around: do you think they recognise both cats as belonging to the same species?

  15. #15 Dartian
    November 30, 2010

    Chris:

    But the question remains, why didn’t the crows harass them both equally once they were in the same place?

    It seems obvious that the crows can interpret a cat’s body language; they must be able to recognise the subtle signs that immidiately precede the cat’s counterattack and take evasive action in time. But perhaps it’s slightly more difficult for the crows to detect those crucial signs in a dark-coloured cat than in a light-coloured one? In other words, perhaps it’s slightly harder for the crows to judge just how closely they can safely approach the black cat? (And bullies, regardless of species, usually prefer to go for the easiest targets.)

  16. #16 Sven DiMilo
    November 30, 2010

    I would still be surprised to see them distinguishing individuals of different species

    Surprise! American crows have no trouble at all distinguishing different people and different cars, and they remember for years.

  17. #17 Mu
    November 30, 2010

    First documented proof that basement cat has evil minion.

  18. #18 Darren Naish
    November 30, 2010

    Yes, the ability among ‘smart’ birds to recognise individuals of other species is – I thought – reasonably well known. There’s a PNAS paper that demonstrated how Northern mockingbirds Mimus polyglottos could recognise individual people after just 60 seconds of exposure (see the writeup here).

  19. #19 Neil
    November 30, 2010

    lol. Its reministant of the classic magpies pulling a foxes tails.

  20. #20 DDeden
    November 30, 2010

    there are no stupid animals…
    (not so sure about plants though)

  21. #21 Calli Arcale
    November 30, 2010

    Funny. They’re just spicing up the entertainment a bit. ;-) Or, perhaps they know the white and brown cat, have a grudge, and are making sure the black cat can take him.

    Crows are so smart. Here, they know traffic patterns. I’ve noticed that on freeway onramps and offramps, they are aware that traffic only flows in one direction. When picking at road kill or somebody’s dropped lunch, they keep an eye on traffic — but they know they only have to bother watching one direction.

    We’ve also got a ferociously aggressive albino squirrel near where I work. “Marshmallow.” We think he’s about ten years old (either that, or there are more albinos in the area than we realize). He’ll take on anything — except the crows.

  22. #22 Dave Hubble
    November 30, 2010

    Ditto the various comments about corvids’ ability to distinguish between individuals – there’s lots of good evidence about this. A couple of personal observations without the evidence;

    1. I’ve watched jackdaws diving to pluck fur from the back of my parents’ overweight cat. Fun, nest-material, other?

    2. Can crows guide pigeons etc into the road to make their own roadkill? Hmmm, I keep wondering, including here:

    http://davehubbleecology.blogspot.com/2010/11/playing-with-cars-can-crows-make-their.html

  23. #23 Jerzy
    November 30, 2010

    My interpretation is that crows have a nest nearby and white cat was trying to get there. So the pair keeps attacking it, not caring that the white cat is now occupied by a territorial fight with the black one.

    Hooded crows and ravens are well known for group attacks where one bird of a group distracts the animal by pecking at its tail (be it a large bird like Grey Heron incubating eggs, or bird/mammalian predator eating prey).

    I written before about incredible discoveries of so-called machiavellan intelligence among Ravens, which allow them to dupe Grey Wolves from their prey and are in a match with great apes. Here comes Cynodont Chauvinism – evolutionary biologists ignore that such skills may be displayed by an avian.

  24. #24 Austin
    November 30, 2010

    Pigeons are such instigators.

  25. #25 Jerzy
    November 30, 2010

    On the light side. This resembles many scenes from the excellent Each Day a Small Victory.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Each-Small-Victory-Chips-Hardy/dp/1904104037

  26. #26 Brian
    November 30, 2010

    This reminds me very much of two scenes I once witnessed involving carrion crows. (One involving a pair and the other involving one member of said pair.)

    In the first incident, I saw a carrion crow harass a black-backed gull by sneaking up to it from behind and truly pulling its tail feathers. This was enough to make the surprised gull fly off. As far as I know, there was no food or danger involved, just a sitting gull being hurt by a devious crow. The whole affair did suggest to me the crow was doing it for fun.
    The other incident I found more impressive. Here the pair of crows worked together to best an aggressive coot guarding a few big pieces of bread. The crows had tried to approach the coot together, after which they were chased off. Then, one of the crows distracted the coot, flying up when it attacked and landing a few meters further away to encourage the coot to keep up its chase. Meanwhile, the other crow quickly picked up SOME (not just one!) of the pieces of bread in its bill and flew off into a tree. Its mate followed immediately afterwards and the two of them happily consumed the bread afterwards.
    When I saw this happening I was deeply impressed by the crows’ ingenious and apparently thought-out strategy.

  27. #27 Maija Karala
    November 30, 2010

    At least here in Finland it’s “common knowledge” that hooded crows as well as ravens (_Corvus corax_) have the habit of pulling the tails or tail feathers of all kinds of predators, even eagles and wolves.

    As for why they do this, well, intelligent animals never make sense. :) I’ve heard it might be a show-off to raise in hierarchy or impress females. Of course, I don’t have the faintest idea where I got that piece of information. Or it might be just, simply, play.

  28. #28 dogteam
    November 30, 2010

    A collegue described a scenario to me that she observed with carrion crows…it appeared that they intentionally startled a group of ducks up into overhead high tension power lines, and happily fed on the casualties. Coincidence, perhaps, but personally I doubt that.

    It doesn’t really imply complex reasoning…but I wonder if it doesn’t explain some of their more oddball behaviour? Have they noticed that just because they “stirred the pot” a bit, it resulted in unexpected meals? If they distract one of two combatants, does it make it more likely that a meal will be forthcoming?

  29. #29 heteromeles
    November 30, 2010

    I’d guess that the black cat and the two crows own that particular yard, and the white cat was an intruder. Crows are perfectly adept at recognizing neighbors and aliens.

    Notice that one crow only went for the black’s tail once. The black made a split-second bluff charge, and the crow retreated without attempting to peck. The crows were also harassing the white cat before the black cat even got involved. Note that the black is sitting off to one side while the crows harass the white cat.

  30. #30 madder
    November 30, 2010

    My own hypothesis, based on no evidence:

    White cat annoyed the crows somehow, so they’re mobbing him. White cat warns crows with typical angry-cat tail wagging. Black cat sees white cat wagging his tail, and interprets this as an aggressive display directed at him. “Why yes,” black cat avers, “I do want a piece of you.”

  31. #31 Zach Miller
    November 30, 2010

    The magpies who live around my parent’s yard constantly taunt their idiot retriever. They sit on the fence and squawk to get her attention, then fly JUST low enough so she can’t jump up and grab them, then she chases them to the other fence, where the game begins anew. According to my dad, in every case, the magpies initiate this “game.”

  32. #32 David Marjanović
    November 30, 2010

    This is the 5th most active ScienceBlogs post at the moment (or rather was a few hours ago).

  33. #33 DCBob
    November 30, 2010

    More proof that cats are Democrats.

  34. #34 pough
    November 30, 2010

    Wow. There are at least three impressive aspects to this video. First is event itself. Second is managing to capture it. Third is picking the music.

    Wow.

  35. #35 Victor
    November 30, 2010

    Well, here’s a first hand account of the events in the video: http://myhomevideos.blogspot.com/2010/11/blog-post.html

  36. #36 Victor
    November 30, 2010

    And here’s the video with original sound: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIkc3eGPeRk#t=3m30

  37. #37 Matt
    November 30, 2010

    I wonder if it’s a territorial dispute between the white cat(an interloper) and the black cat(the ‘local’) in which the Crows are pitching in?

  38. #38 Rob Deegan
    November 30, 2010

    “I would still be surprised to see them distinguishing individuals of different species – even a species that has highly distinct individuals”

    As a falconer, I can assure you that red-tailed hawks readily distinguish between individual humans, and they (the hawks) are likely a lot less intelligent than corvids.

  39. #39 Anthea Fleming
    December 1, 2010

    Australian Little Ravens had no difficulty killing free range Bantam chicks. They worked as a team – Raven A attacked the bantams frontally – rooster and hens ran up and fussed and chased it, while Raven B sneaked up behind and killed a chick.
    They got most of the clutch.

  40. #40 djlactin
    December 1, 2010

    Crows can also be stooopid. Once, I was in a park when something large and black fell out of a tree and landed nearly at my feet. I went over to investigate: “it” was two crows, each with a claw around the other’s throat. I got close enough that I could have nudged them with my foot, but they just laid there, eying me. Meanwhile, another (bigger) crow sat on a brach above my head and squawked. Eventually it flew away, at which point the two on the ground disengaged and flew after it. Two males competing for a female?

  41. #41 Dartian
    December 1, 2010

    Jerzy:

    so-called machiavellan intelligence among Ravens, which allow them to dupe Grey Wolves from their prey

    I don’t think you should refer to interspecific food competition – no matter how seemingly clever – as an example of Macchiavellian intelligence. That term should be restricted to describing intraspecific social power play.

    evolutionary biologists ignore that such skills may be displayed by an avian

    Don’t you ever tire of your ‘Scientists/Biologists/Paleontologists-are-ignorant-idiots’ shtick?

  42. #42 Isabel
    December 1, 2010

    Cats and crows can be best friends too.

    http://www.slide.com/r/hD6DvyAOxD9ClUhvUpVcUMABW9QzpGnQ

  43. #43 athan chilton
    December 1, 2010

    Crows and ravens definitely are able to recognize (and remember) individuals, regardless of species. They certainly can recognize different human beings, so why not different cats? This video makes me think the crows were simply messing with the cats for their own amusement…egging the cats into a fight, or encouraging the fight that was in the making. One of the crows seemed to be repeatedly pulling the grey & white cat’s tail, or trying to…that is a known corvid behavior. Ravens do it to wolves…and mostly the wolves tolerate such behavior…because the ravens lead the wolves towards food, in the wild.

  44. #44 Semih
    December 1, 2010

    very great
    music is beautiful, but very crazy crows :)

  45. #45 Dr. De La Broca
    December 1, 2010

    Am I the ONLY person who’s convinced that the lighter-colored cat was sabotaged by some fool looking for entertainment? There’s absolutely NO reason that the rooks would constantly go for her tail, unless some sort of attractive substance was drawing the animals to that particular region of the cat’s anatomy–it’s just too dangerous. Think about it: if the rooks were “bothered” by something the cat had done, or were trying to procure decent nesting material, then they could have taken advantage of the flying fur during the fight, and safely escaped any risk of the cat potentially hurting them. Furthermore, the black cat appears to strike the other cat without “reason” (*I’m trying to avoid anthropomorphizing)..I’ve only ever seen such inexplicable viciousness amongst animals that were baited or profoundly ‘riled-up’ for the purpose of human entertainment; e.g. bull-fighting, dog-fighting, etc.
    It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the multi-colored cat had been subject to the application of a chemical to its tail.
    If anyone can convince me otherwise, BE MY GUEST!

  46. #46 Jerzy
    December 1, 2010

    “I don’t think you should refer to interspecific food competition – no matter how seemingly clever – as an example of Macchiavellian intelligence.”

    Both include sophisticated manipulating behaviour of other individual.

    “Don’t you ever tire of your ‘Scientists/Biologists/Paleontologists-are-ignorant-idiots’ shtick?”

    Ever heard of paradigms in science? Somehow, explosives physics is free of long-standing controversial theories.

  47. #47 Calli Arcale
    December 1, 2010

    I’ve only ever seen such inexplicable viciousness amongst animals that were baited or profoundly ‘riled-up’ for the purpose of human entertainment; e.g. bull-fighting, dog-fighting, etc.

    Really? Viciousness among animals, without human intervention, is actually pretty well documented. Those lovable, cute, adorable bottlenose dolphins? Wild ones have been known to “play” with porpoises. It is unclear why they are so extraordinarily cruel to porpoises; they don’t eat them, and it’s not like the dolphins are afraid of porpoises or have to protect their young from them. This is not abnormal behavior either; it happens often enough that it’s considered normal.

  48. #48 loren
    December 1, 2010

    Dr. de la Broca says> Am I the ONLY person who’s convinced that the lighter-colored cat was sabotaged by some fool looking for entertainment? There’s absolutely NO reason that the rooks would constantly go for her tail, unless some sort of attractive substance was drawing the animals to that particular region of the cat’s anatomy–it’s just too dangerous.

    Eh, probably you are, assuming most of us have seen predator-mobbing first-hand. And then there’s this utube classic of primate-on-cat mobbing:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qqdovHOgvU&NR=1

  49. #49 Gwen
    December 1, 2010

    Dr. de la Broca says> Am I the ONLY person who’s convinced that the lighter-colored cat was sabotaged by some fool looking for entertainment? There’s absolutely NO reason that the rooks would constantly go for her tail, unless some sort of attractive substance was drawing the animals to that particular region of the cat’s anatomy–it’s just too dangerous.

    How is going after “tasty looking speck on cat’s tail” more believable than going after the cat’s tail for any other reason? Biologists don’t run around putting substances on the tails of wolves, gulls, eagles, et cetera, to incite a reaction in wild corvids.

    I’m curious about what kind of substance would be required to get such a reaction in the first place. Unless crows are an exception, birds usually have a very poor sense of smell. And if it were something visible, why can’t we see it? The cat doesn’t show any sign of annoyance with its own body, either, and the tail is one of a cat’s most closely guarded regions.

    It would be nice to see what occurred during the minute just before the video, given that by the start the crows have apparently made up their minds about the white cat.

  50. #50 Vinny Burgoo
    December 1, 2010

    Pace Dr De la Broca, thanks! Very entertaining.

    Not in the same class, but here’s another example of archosaurs vs mammals (and archosaurs vs archosaurs):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fslv4ZD-vWA

  51. #51 doug l
    December 1, 2010

    Viktor @32 and 34, the person who recorded this video on his cell phone and posted it on Youtube, has an interesting description of how it all came about and adds some insight as to these particular critters and how the video came to be made, over at his website which he links to in his comments above. He also reveals something interesting regarding a lively controversy with another youtube poster who’s evidently trying to capitalize on this video’s popularity, and maybe about animals propensity to fight over stuff…and other people’s stuff more importantly. cheers.

  52. #52 doug l
    December 1, 2010

    Ooops. Re: the video’s creator, Viktor’s links are above at comments #35 and #36.

  53. #53 farandfew
    December 1, 2010

    This is clearly a duel. The crows are the cats’ seconds. The music is great but I think the whole thing should also be dubbed with 3 musketeers style dialogue.

  54. #54 Dartian
    December 2, 2010

    Jerzy:

    Both include sophisticated manipulating behaviour of other individual.

    Competition for food (and other resources) between different species requires environmental intelligence rather than social intelligence. They are two quite different kinds of intelligence* (and Machiavellian intelligence, in turn, is just a subset of social intelligence), and they do not necessarily correlate closely with each other (see, e.g., Wilson et al., 1996).

    * To put it somewhat cynically: you need environmental intelligence to fool your enemies, and social intelligence to fool your friends.

    Reference:

    Wilson, D.S., Near, D. & Miller, R.R. 1996. Machiavellianism: a synthesis of the evolutionary and psychological literatures. Psychological Bulletin 119, 285-299.

    Ever heard of paradigms in science?

    Why, yes, I have.

    But this wasn’t about what I have or haven’t heard of. This was about your habit of making gratuitous blanket statements where you misrepresent – or dismiss altogether – entire scientific disciplines and their practitioners. In this thread, you wrote:

    evolutionary biologists ignore that such skills may be displayed by an avian

    I wouldn’t be making a fuss if you had qualified that by saying, for example, that ‘some evolutionary biologists (still) ignore’, or ‘evolutionary biologists used to ignore’. Or if you had provided actual examples of (currently active) professional evolutionary biologists who dispute claims about high intelligence in avians.

    I also wouldn’t be making a fuss if your comment had been a one-off. But it wasn’t; you have a long history of posting similar passive-aggressive stuff here on Tet Zoo. I just want to know why you keep doing that. You frequently have genuine insights to offer to the discussions – is the provocative snark that so often comes with them really necessary?

  55. #55 wolfwalker
    December 2, 2010

    The video is also a nice introductory tutorial to domestic cat body language. Lesson 1: aggression and hostility.

    Also lesson 2: dominance and submission. From the moment Black Cat enters camera right, it’s apparent that he’s dominant and White Cat is junior on the totem pole.

    My guess is that the crows are showing less intelligence than one might think. They’re simply indulging in a programmed play-behavior of ‘nip predator’s tail, increasing boldness, until it reacts.’ But White Cat is more interested in protecting himself against Black Cat, so he never gives the crows a strong-enough reaction to drive them off.

  56. #56 Brian Iverson
    December 2, 2010

    I’m a little confused at where the hilarity is in this video. Having seen the after effects of a cat fight, I did not find this video amusing at all. This cat fight is not amusing and I wonder why you would find the cat fight funny and not the behavior of the crows? From the comments – most all analyzing the behaviors etc but none expressing a humorous take on the video – I would suggest that Darren seek some counseling. Do you pull the wings off flies and find it funny? Maybe too many hours spent watching violent video games.

  57. #57 Dartian
    December 3, 2010

    Gavin:

    I would still be surprised to see them distinguishing individuals of different species

    As others have already pointed out, it’s not unheard of that animals are able to distinguish between different individuals of other species. Some experimental (and plenty of anecdotal) evidence suggests that this ability is, in fact, fairly common among vertebrates.

    Even some fish seem to be able to tell apart individuals of other fish species. This appears to be the case especially with cleaner fish and their various clients on coral reefs (Bshary & Würth, 2001; Bshary, 2002). The individual cleaners differ in their cleaning efficiency – some even cheat their clients by biting off chunks of their skins instead of cleaning them – and it seems that the clients are able to recognise, remember and, understandably, prefer those cleaners that do the best job. On the other hand, from the cleaners’ point of view, some potential clients are more attractive than others (for example, transient individuals seem to be preferred to resident locals). Add to this the fact that both the cleaners and the clients compete amongst themselves, and you get a surprisingly complex ‘buyers/sellers market’. (Incidentally, it has even been suggested that these cleaner fish and their clients, living and interacting in their relatively stable communities as they are, might offer a rare example of a case where genuine Machiavellian intriguing takes place between members of different species. If that turns out to be the case, it just goes to show that you don’t need a primate- or corvid-level brain for social scheming.)

    References:

    Bshary, R. 2002. Biting cleaner fish use altruism to deceive image-scoring client reef fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 269, 2087-2093.

    Bshary, R. & Würth, M. 2001. Cleaner fish Labroides dimidiatus manipulate client reef fish by providing tactile stimulation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 268, 1495-1501.

  58. #58 Kevin
    December 3, 2010

    ignore Brian Iverson, he’s probably just a member of an extremist organization bent on hatred of mankind… some people call it PETA. Personally, I think there is humor in this video (saw it before it was removed from youtube) and enjoyed reading a more in-depth point of view on it.

  59. #59 Mark Robinson
    December 4, 2010

    Darren, the video you linked to has been removed. Here it is on the videographers YT acct: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WANZBs8Za0Q

    Excellent blog btw. Appreciate your time and effort in sharing your wide interest (within 4-legged critters anyway).

  60. #60 Darren Naish
    December 4, 2010

    Oh well. I’ll leave the post as is.

  61. #61 Darren Naish
    December 4, 2010

    Actually, I’ve just added the new video where the makers are properly credited. Thanks, Mark, for the heads-up :)

  62. #62 Hai~Ren
    December 4, 2010

    Now the video is marked as ‘private’ and isn’t available for viewing.

  63. #63 Darren Naish
    December 4, 2010

    Oh well, I tried.

  64. #64 Hai~Ren
    December 4, 2010

    Well, seems like it’s been reuploaded by the person who filmed the original footage here.

  65. #65 CS Shelton
    December 4, 2010

    Based on the birds pestering before the cats started to interact, I’d guess the cat conflict was like something I’ve witnessed in my own pets. Namely, interest in a cornered animal. One of my cats is pretty indifferent and lazy, but when he sees another cat in a corner, bound, or upset, he gets very interested. Seems like the vulnerability triggers some opportunistic play instinct, probably meant as practice for opportunistic predation.

    But I didn’t catch the back story, so I’m just talking out of my ass. As for the birds motivation, my region’s corvids don’t even need nearby young as an excuse to mob. At a great distance, an easy way to tell if a bird is a large raptor is whether it’s surrounded by bastard crows. Or maybe, as demonstrated in the cutesy cat-crow pals video, they’re just playful.

    “Dr. de la Broca” must not be a doctor of ornithology, because tail-snapping is clearly a very widespread (global?) corvid pastime. Why the incredulity? Hell, even apes have that instinct (look up gibbons on youtube). As for Iverson, yes, if you stick around, you will see things on Tet Zoo which will chill you to the bones. Come back for fresh outrage as you like. We’ll keep ignoring you.

    Gwen- I agree the cat would show annoyance if it had something in its fur, but the tail specifically not so much. My cats are pretty stupid about what happens to the wiggly things attached to their posteriors.

  66. #66 Jenny Islander
    December 5, 2010

    This reminds me of an encounter I witnessed years ago. A murder of crows had surrounded a cat, cawing and flap-hopping and dashing in at her. However, the cat had her play face on and kept pretend-pouncing. The crows eventually stopped flapping around and just settled down and stared at her. I really think they were able to interpret her body language. When she didn’t get upset–well, that was no fun!

    Apropos of archosaurs, does anybody have a link to a roundup of what is known about the birds of the Early Cretaceous? Google is turning up either articles about specific fossils or a line or two in a page about Early Cretaceous life in general. Bonus if it actually mentions the Hauterivian.

  67. #67 David Marjanović
    December 5, 2010

    Apropos of archosaurs, does anybody have a link to a roundup of what is known about the birds of the Early Cretaceous?

    Are you kidding? The Yixian and Jiufotang Formations are Early Cretaceous in age! Confuciusornis! Sinornis! And so on for an hour! :-)

  68. #68 David Marjanović
    December 5, 2010

    Terrestrial vertebrate fossils of Hauterivian age are rare in general, though. The Yixian Fm spans the Barremian-Aptian boundary, the Jiufotang Fm is Aptian.

  69. #69 Ramond
    December 5, 2010

    [quote]I would still be surprised to see them distinguishing individuals of different species[/quote]
    Heck, my private own archosaurs ([i]Lonchura domestica[/i]) have absolutely no problem distinguishing individual members of my family. They perfectly know whom to ‘ask’ for smthing (usually a bath) and whom there’s no point to bother :)

  70. #70 Jenny Islander
    December 7, 2010

    I’m trying, for my own amusement, to write a sort of field trip to a lightly fictionalized Hauterivian North America and I would like to mention birds that plausibly might be spotted around the continent. But what I’m getting from Google is lots of discussion of the Yixian et al. in China and a few papers about specific fossils elsewhere–no summaries of world bird fauna in a given time period. ISTM that a summary of that type might be useful simply because birds fly and therefore they tend to pop up everywhere–look at ducks, spotted overwintering in leads in the ice off Barrow and also as year-round residents on Subantarctic islands–look at owls and small passerines for that matter. Am I using the wrong search terms or is there simply no page like that out there?

  71. #71 Monado
    December 9, 2010

    I’ve seen magpies indulge in interspecies teasing. A group of them were plucking red flowers from geraniums and then trying to steal each other’s flowers. They would fly around with a flower, then land, drop the flower, and defend it. One bird varied the game by flying over and dropping its flower on a squirrel. It appeared quite deliberate.

  72. #72 Monado
    December 9, 2010

    Those cats aren’t fighting in earnest; it’s fairly playful wrassling that could escalate if someone gets nipped in a sensitive spot, but is basically friendly rivalry.

  73. #73 CS Shelton
    December 10, 2010

    Jenny- Sadly, the fossil record we’ve uncovered so far, while spectacular and intriguing, is extremely patchy. You might find yourself looking at species from before and after the age you’re looking at and having to deduce what sorts of creatures lived in between. Which isn’t very scientific (no field of “theoretical paleontology” yet), but is certainly fun.

    My daydream is of an online database tracking all described fossil species through place and time, which would make extrapolations known data easier to generate and more likely to be accurate.

  74. #74 Jane
    December 11, 2010

    Am I the only one who thinks the white cat has a critter in its mouth that gets free sometime after the cat fight begins? I am sure at some point a moving, self-propelled and I assume living object appears along the curb, moving away from the cat fight.
    It’s typical corw behavior to go at its competitor’s hind end in an effort to get it to abandon prey.

  75. #75 Joseph
    December 14, 2010

    I disagree with any suggestion the cats aren’t fighting in earnest. They are clearly serious, and the injuries cats sustain in such fights are often serious as well. This is a fascinating video and the behaviors are thought provoking, but the human reactions to the video are almost as interesting.

  76. #76 ignoramusky
    December 14, 2010

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ynd1-P3sg_I – This normal behavior of cats is probable

  77. #77 kamion
    December 14, 2010

    one explanation given, which is plausible, is that the crows defend a nest.
    but crows are intelligent, have character and do play. Would it really be inpossible that these pair of crows just enjoy to be mean bullies?

  78. #78 Anshelm
    December 17, 2010

    Sigh, If only the crow split would be acknowledged in the Finnish checklist (following AERC TAC) as well: I’ve already seen a Carrion Crow *twice* in Rovaniemi, the first occasion already accepted by the Rarities Committee (the ONLY accepted record of Finnish Lapland btw). And the Hooded Crow is, of course, very common here.

    On a crow-related note, I once saw a Hooded Crow (525 g) catch a Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus, 265 g) mid-air, and start feeding on the ground, surrounded by vocal protests of the gull colony.

    Similarly, on other occasion I saw a Magpie (Pica pica, 217 g) catch a Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris, 106 g), but was startled by my presence, and let it go.

    And yeah, cool video.

  79. #79 Aki
    December 21, 2010

    A crow slaughtered by an european hare in Vaasa Finland (June 2008).

    http://www.iltasanomat.fi/videot/Tappajajänö%20teurasti%20variksen/vid-1288334592784.html

  80. #80 Harpo
    December 25, 2010

    I think Jane is right – at about the 1:48 mark, something small and dark, which looks self-propelled, scurries a few feet away to the right from the fighting cats. It’s at the base of the curb. It stays there for a while. Then at about the 2:48, as the camera pans a bit to the left, it momentarily loses the object. A few seconds later, it pans back and as it does, you can see the object run away again, off the right edge of the frame. It would make sense – the crows are trying to get the white cat to drop it, the black cat is trying to take it from the white cat, and in the midst of the mayhem, the lucky little creature makes it getaway.

  81. #81 Shyloh Dog travel gear
    February 15, 2011

    That is about as cool as dog travel gear. Maybe the cats should think about getting some for themselves, before they get lifted away by creepy birds.

  82. #82 Agent Red Poo
    May 11, 2011

    I suggest all read:
    http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2011/05/us_military_spy_crows_binladen.php

    Crows mob and peck at tails enemy. Is normal. White cat bad. Crows know, crows peck cat. Black cat not that bad. Crows know. Crows no peck.

    Conclusion. Black cat white cat fight land. Crow help black cat. Black cat nice.

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