October 25, 2014

Dogs seem to have such expressive faces.

Animals communicate in a variety of ways and animals are capable of feeling emotions. Mammals (like dogs and humans) have very similar neural and hormonal responses to external stimuli because we have a shared phylogenetic history.

For instance, the same areas of the brain light up in humans and other mammals when we feel pain or stress. By in large we use the same hormones to send the same kind of information, the hormones in you elicit the same response in dogs.

The complexity of emotions in animals is difficult to quantify because:

They may express them in ways we cannot or do not understand, as they may use senses that we do not use or they may have senses that we don't know about. For instance, it was only recently found that elephants can emit low-frequency sounds, way below human hearing, and in this way they can communicate over very long distances.

We are capable of explaining our emotions through words, whereas we can only gain an understanding of animal emotions through their responses to [our] external stimuli. We may also measure hormone levels or perform brain scans. "Evidence for emotions in animals has been primarily anecdotal, coming from individuals who interact with pets on a regular basis. However, critics of emotions in animals cite anthropomorphism as motivating factor in the above suggestion. Much of the debates confusion centers around the difficulty in defining emotion and the cognitive requirements necessary to experience emotion in a similar vein to humans". So yes, anthropomorphizing emotions is taken seriously, however that does not prevent scientist from trying to quantify animal emotions in other ways.

OMG Did you see the cat did that? I saw it


October 24, 2014

Submissions continue to roll in for National Geographic's 2014 Photo Contest, and we've been wowed by the spectacular wildlife photography entered so far.

Almost 5,000 photos have been submitted in the three categories of people, places and nature.

The contest closes on October 31, so you still have a few days to submit your photos, even if you're not a photography pro. Last year there were more than 7,000 entries from 150 countries. And if the photos we've seen are any indication, the judges this year are going to face a tough decision.

To submit your own photos, go to National Geographic's photo contest website. You can also see more entries by browsing the Nat Geo editors' top picks every week.

Photo and caption by Joanna Szczepanska

“Your presence has been noticed” seems to say that gray wolf look. This couple of wolves was "chilling out" in the bushes, it was a very warm summer day up in the polar circle.

2- Juvenile Little Owls- Photo and caption by Prashant Meswani

3-Puma: Photo and caption by Serhat Demiroglu/National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest

4- Soaring Eagle Photo and caption by Ava PITTS

5-Leopard - Photo and caption by Rob Bates

6- Waving Bear Photo and caption by Daniel Dietrich

7- Coyote: Photo and caption by Karen West

8- Snowy Owl Photo and caption by David Dillhoff/National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest

9- Photo and caption by Jonathan Huyer/National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest A newborn polar bear cub explores its magical new world, while keeping close to Mom.

10- Arctic Wolf Photo and caption by John Rollins

Kitty gives massage to pitbull

In positively adorable footage making its way around the Internet, a little cat takes a few moments to give his close pal a face massage, as the canine lies contently in his bed, barely making a move.

Finally, the cat realizes the dog has the right idea, curling up alongside him and taking a nap. It's as endearing as any video involving two animals can be:

The term Pit Bull is loosely used as a generic term used to describe dogs with similar physical characteristics. There over twenty breeds which tend to be characterized as pit bulls. These include the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, American Bully, American Bulldog, Dogo Argentino, Presa Canario, Cane Corso, or any mix thereof. Any dog that is mixed with a "Bull breed" may also be called a "Pit Bull" including those that are descended from the English Bulldog, French Bulldog, and Boston Terrier.

All dogs, including pit bulls, are individuals. Treating them as such, providing them with the care, training and supervision they require, and judging them by their actions and not by their DNA or their physical appearance is the best way to ensure that dogs and people can continue to share safe and happy lives together.


Little Elephant: Where is your trunk, human?

Distributed from India, where it occurs in largest numbers, to Borneo, where only small vestigial populations persist, the Indian elephant plays an important ecological and cultural role in Asia

Elephants are an important cultural icon in India. According to Indian mythology, the gods (deva) and the demons (asura) churned the oceans in a search for the elixir of life - 'amrit' (nectar) - so that they would become immortal. As they did so, the 'navratnas' (nine jewels) surfaced, one of which was the elephant.

Consequently, the elephant is extremely valuable, and therefore must be treasured, preserved and protected, just as a jewel would be.

Asian elephants are extremely sociable, forming groups of 6 to 7 related females that are led by the oldest female, the 'matriarch'. Like African elephants, these groups occasionally join others to form herds, although these associations are relatively transient.


October 23, 2014

Atlas the husky doesn't approve of his human's new halloween decoration.

Halloween is nearly upon us, and the spirit of the scare is in everyone -- especially this husky dog.

Our canine friend is remarkably spooked by this fake rat decoration, circling it warily and barking up a storm.

But hey, we can't blame the pup for wanting to protect his home from things that go bump in the night -- even if they're plastic. (Source)

NOTE: In some parts of the world, such as the remote rain forests of Papua New Guinea, certain rat species can grow quite large. But even then, those rare rodents -- like a specimen found in 2009 -- aren't usually catlike in size. That one only weighed in at a little more than 3 pounds (1.5 kilograms).

Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus, the two most common species of rats people are likely to encounter, usually tip the scales at around 1 pound, and may infrequently grow up to 2 pounds (0.5 kilograms to 1 kilogram). Meanwhile, most domesticated cats tend to weigh around 8 to 10 pounds on average (3.5 to 4.5 kilograms). Big difference.