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Animal Behavior

August 19, 2007 | Meghan Daum, Meghan Daum is an opinion columnist for The Times.
What's the cost of dog love? A chew toy from PetSmart goes for about $5. An aromatherapy grooming session at Chateau Marmutt can run $150. An Italian leather rhinestone collar from Fifi and Romeo will set you back $164. But how much does it cost to let your dog do what it was put on Earth to do? The answer: $175 a month.
August 18, 2007 | Denise Gellene, Times Staff Writer
Confronted by a hungry rattlesnake, a California ground squirrel chucks pebbles and dirt at its enemy and menacingly waves its tail. Then it really turns on the heat. Using infrared cameras, scientists at UC Davis have found that ground squirrels warmed their tails as much as 12 degrees to silently warn rattlesnakes, which can detect the tiniest of temperature changes.
July 23, 2007 | Tony Barboza, Times Staff Writer
Word to the whale-wise: Head south. Once a rare sight south of Santa Barbara, blue whales have in recent years come to favor Southern California waters. Whale watchers seeking a glimpse of the largest animals on Earth this summer will have the best chances off the coast of Orange and San Diego counties and northern Baja California, according to marine biologists. "Some ebb and flow is normal for animal populations in general," said Mike Bursk, a biologist with the Ocean Institute in Dana Point.
July 21, 2007 | Amber Dance, Times Staff Writer
A queen bee needs to keep her subjects calm and quiet, and she does so by secreting a scent that prevents worker bees from learning, according to new research. The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that a component in the queen's pheromone inhibits the sterile worker bees' ability to learn from negative experiences. The active scent element is similar to the brain compound dopamine, which is involved in learning and memory in humans and insects.
July 7, 2007 | Amber Dance, Times Staff Writer
They may have bird brains, but feathered flycatchers can and do learn, even from their competitors, according to research released Thursday. Every spring, pied and collared flycatchers arrive in the forests of Europe, looking for a good place to lay their eggs. Not knowing the territory well, they often look to resident birds for the best places to breed. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," said study author Janne-Tuomas Seppanen of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland.
June 30, 2007 | Amber Dance, Times Staff Writer
A good man is hard to find -- and for female Galapagos iguanas, the search for the sexiest mate is so exhausting that it may actually threaten their ability to survive, according to a study published Wednesday. Female iguanas on the equatorial island of Santa Fe spend about a month checking out the available males, some of whom maintain almost constant displays of masculine prowess.
June 29, 2007 | Pete Thomas
The dolphin didn't stand a chance once it had been separated from its pod. The killer whales overwhelmed the smaller mammal. They hurled their massive bodies out of the water and splashed down on top of it, grabbing it with their teeth and tossing it through the air. "They were playing with it just like a cat plays with a mouse," Tyler Elzig, captain of the fishing boat Sea Horse, said of what he witnessed Sunday. "It was the most intense thing I've seen in my entire life on the water."
June 11, 2007 | From the Associated Press
Training her binoculars on a dark patch of seaweed swaying in the shallows, Gena Bentall gasped. After searching for sea otters all day, the research biologist had spotted one: a mother with a pup on her belly, a mauled face dripping blood and a male pursuer hot on her tail. Female sea otters often have scars on their noses, the price of breeding with clumsy, sharp-toothed partners.
June 2, 2007 | Karen Kaplan, Times Staff Writer
The elephants' messages were urgent: Lions hunting nearby. Instead of pricking up their ears, the other elephants listened to the warnings with their feet. But they heeded the alarms only from animals they knew, according to a new study. For the research, scientists from Stanford University, UC San Diego and the Oakland Zoo traveled to Namibia's Etosha National Park, where they found herds of wild elephants gathered near a remote watering hole.
May 31, 2007 | Eric Bailey, Times Staff Writer
They came, they wandered, they went. After a 17-day sojourn in Northern California's inland waterways, two wayward humpback whales that caught the attention of the nation appear to have quietly slipped back into the Pacific Ocean. By late Wednesday, nearly 24 hours after they were last sighted off the Marin County town of Tiburon, the mother and her calf were nowhere to be seen. Most of the experts mounting a rescue operation concluded that the pair had found their way back to their ocean home.
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