Comparative Psychology

The Thoughtful Animal

Category archives for Comparative Psychology

Eric M. Johnson and I spent about 45 minutes discussing “evolutionary psychology beyond sex” last night, which you can see today on Bloggingheads “Science Saturday.” Or just watch it here:

“Two chimps had been shut out of their shelter by mistake during a cold rain storm. They were standing dejeted, water streaming down their shivering bodies, when Professor K√∂hler chanced to pass.” Upon opening the door for the two chimps, Dr. James Leuba recounts, “instead of scampering in without more ado, as many a child…

Scientists thought they had a pretty good handle on the social interactions of bottlenose dophins (Tursiops). They’ve used the term fission-fusion dynamics to describe dolphin (and non-human primate) society and so far it has served researchers well. Fission-fusion societies among dolphins are characterized by two levels of social hierarchy: groups of two or three related…

Have you ever been at a party with lots of people chatting away, when for some unexplainable reason you felt compelled to turn and look at the front door of your friend’s house…and just as you were looking, someone was just coming in from outside and closing the door? You couldn’t have heard the door…

Meet Rio. Rio is a California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus). She was born in captivity at Marine World in Northern California, and due to insufficient maternal care from her biological mother, she was transferred to the Long Marine Laboratory at UC Santa Cruz when she was just a few days old. There, she was raised…

The Fate of the Alamogordo Chimps

The National Institutes of Health announced that by 2011 it will transfer almost two hundred chimpanzees from the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico to a lab in San Antonio, Texas, lab for use in invasive research. In 1995, the NIH announced a moratorium on the breeding of chimps in federally-supported labs, and as a…

Cooperation and conflict are both a part of human society. While a good deal of the academic literature addresses the evolutionary origins of conflict, in recent years there has been an increased focus on the investigation of the evolutionary origins of cooperative behavior. One component of cooperative behavior that might be present in other animals…

Monday Pets on Scientific American!

For today’s dose of monday pet blogging, head on over to a piece that I wrote for Scientific American that went up today. I used the invitation as an opportunity to a dig a little deeper into the story of Belyaev and his domesticated silver foxes (I previously wrote about them, here and here)

Dogs are pretty smart. They can have huge vocabularies, they can infer meaning in the growls of other dogs, and they can effortlessly figure out if other dogs want to play or fight with them. But their intelligence might be limited to the social domain; indeed, while they outperform chimpanzees in social tasks, chimpanzees outperform…

Earlier this week I wrote about the developmental and evolutionary origins of large number representation. A series of studies in human infants, monkeys, rats, and fish demonstrated that animals and humans spontaneously represent large (>4), abstract, approximate numerosities. Animals, human infants, and human adults, show the same ratio signatures (based on Weber’s Law). Adult tamarins…