Snippets

Snippets


A clever cat? Not really...

It will cause outrage among some cat owners, but research suggests the pets are not as clever as some humans assumed, or at least they think in a way we have yet to fathom.
She tested the thought processes of 15 of them by attaching fish and biscuit treats to one end of a piece of string, placing them under a plastic screen to make them unreachable and then seeing if the cats could work out that pulling on the other end of the string would pull the treat closer.  They were tested in three ways, using a single baited string, two parallel strings where only one was baited, and two crossed strings where only one was baited. The single string test proved no problem, but unlike dogs (which Osthaus has previously tested) no cat consistently chose correctly between two parallel strings. With two crossed strings, one cat always made the wrong choice and others succeeded no more than might be expected by chance.

Osthaus, of Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, said: “This finding is somehow surprising as cats regularly use their paws and claws to pull things towards them during play and hunting. They performed even worse than dogs, which can at least solve the parallel string task.” The study helped show the limits of feline intelligence, said Osthaus, who conducted the research while a teaching fellow at Exeter University.
“If we know their limits we won’t expect too much of them, which in turn is important for their welfare. I am not trying to say cats are stupid, just they are different. We are so anthropomorphic we can’t see the world through their eyes.” There is just one consolation. Humans don’t understand string theory either.
James Meikle
The Guardian

Deep in Lake Huron, signs of ancient hunts
Researchers from the University of Michigan have found evidence of an ancient hunting culture beneath the lake’s waters. Surveying an underwater ridge with side-scan sonar and remote-operated vehicles, John M O’Shea of the university’s Museum of Anthropology and GuyUNDERWATER TALES Researchers have found evidence of an ancient hunting culture R Meadows of the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratory discovered stone features that resemble those used today in the Canadian Arctic to hunt caribou. The submerged features date from about 7,500 to 10,000 years ago, when the lake’s level was much lower and the ridge was a narrow causeway that ran from present-day Michigan to Ontario, dividing the lake in two.
The researchers used their knowledge of current caribou-hunting practices and bathymetric data from the lake bottom to find promising spots to investigate along the ridge, Meadows said. Among the features they found were an 1,100-foot line of low rocks that appears to be a “drive lane,” which Inuits use to channel caribou past a certain point. “These people appear to do everything the way the Inuits do,” Meadows said.
The researchers say they may have also found evidence of hunting blinds, groups of boulders that the hunters would have hidden behind to ambush the caribou. The findings are reported in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The stone features likely were the work of Paleoindians, the early peoples who migrated across North America from Asia. The Lake Huron findings are the first evidence of underwater archeological features in the region.
Henry Fountain
NYT News Service

Reading pigeons’ brains as they fly
Alexei L Vyssotski of the University of Zurich and colleagues have studied the brain activity of homing pigeons as they fly over visual landmarks.
The researchers developed tiny neurologgers, to record electrical activity in the pigeons’ brains as they flew. The birds also carried small global positioning system units to track position. By matching brain activity to location, the researchers could determine the effect of flying over a landmark.The researchers reported their findings in Current Biology.
NYT News Service

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