Science Saturday

Finnegan is a momma’s boy, Kobe is manipulative, Bennie is a goofball, and Babu is loving but oh so needy. And according to researchers, I’m not entirely off-base in ascribing human qualities to our four adorable pets. As reported in the June 18th issue of Newsweek International, a variety of studies have shown animals to exhibit personality traits. For example, “researchers in the North Carolina State University genetics department found some flies to be consistently more aggressive than others—they made more threats and dished out more physical abuse, going so far as to kick and push others (yes, flies can kick).” Mighty Superfly[Hence, the reappearance of our Superfly image with this story.] Studies in animal behavior are already aiding in drug research for humans—because, after all, it’s all about us. “By putting animals with specific personalities (aggressive or passive, for example) into specific situations (isolation or a social setting) and testing them, researchers could help determine how personality traits influence responses to disease and medications.” Ultimately, scientists may be able to use animals to understand how genes and environment influence personality.

Not exactly Atlantis, but… A small farm town in Australia that was flooded in 1957 to create a hydro-electricity project has reemerged after a drought. Remains of tractors, buildings, bottles, farm machinery, and other items have been uncovered as the water recedes and the dam drains. The London Telegraph offers a pictorial essay—click on the “In Pictures” link—of the lost town of Old Adaminaby.

3 Comments Science Saturday

  1. puddlehead June 23, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    I’m surprised it took researchers this long to realize that animals exhibit personality traits. Whoever thought they were just meaty robots hasn’t spent much time with them. I am connived regularly by my dog. She sighs, I know to move over on the bed; she headbutts me, it’s time for a walk; Shoot, my dog’s craftier and more effectively manipulative than most people I know. It’s not that she’s smarter, exactly. It’s just that she’s very committed and therefore spends most of her time coming up with schemes to make me do the next thing she wants done.

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  2. Meg June 23, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    I wonder if they avoided the whole anthropomorphizing thing so that they wouldn’t have to see their Uncle Joe in Monkey #13.

    Your dog sounds like my cat Kobe, except nicer. If Kobe wants to go outside at 7am and we’re asleep, he stands on his hind legs and wiggles the doorknob to the garage to wake me up. It makes a racket. If that doesn’t work, he then scratches my side of the bed.

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  3. puddlehead June 24, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    More evidence for the scientists, Meg. I’m humiliated by this, but it’s worth retelling: Last night, I’m watching John from Cinncinati with a friend, and Dear Dog walks over, does her Aussie Shepherd talk/dance of bladder distress. So, I say, “Ok, let’s go outside.” I get up off the couch, and she jumps in my spot, rests her head on the armrest, and leaves me standing there.
    I say we get Kobe and DawgE to magically have babies. We groom said babies for rewarding careers in politics, university administration, and non-profit fundraising. We can’t miss.

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