Dogs Feel Jealousy, Raising Questions About Its Evolutionary Origin

Despite the wide variety of species that have complex social structures – elephants, monkeys, chimps, dolphins, giraffes, wolves, corvids, and lots more – many have argued that jealousy requires a sophisticated understanding of the self and of other’s social goals and desires.

That skepticism has proven reasonable in the case of guilt. What many dog owners report as guilt is probably the dog’s learned response to the owner’s own scolding behavior. As I wrote in 2012 at Scientific American, dogs probably give the “guilty look” because they’ve learned that it reduces the likelihood or severity of their scolding, not because they know they’ve broken a rule.

But dog owners may actually be right when it comes to jealousy. That’s because young infants and toddlers, with their immature, developing brains, appear capable of at least simple forms of the emotion. Indeed, it was after reading a small but growing literature on jealousy in babies that Christine R. Harris and Caroline Prouvost of the University of California, San Diego, decided to adapt the experiment for pet dogs.”

Learn more at io9.

These Mice Excel At Assembling The Ideal Sperm Swim Teams

In humans, it’s every sperm for itself: sperm cells race to reach an egg and the first one there gets to fertilise it. But in many other animals, sperm can clump together to form cooperative bundles that outswim any solo cells.

Take the deer mouse. The sperm of this common North American rodent have heads that are flattened paddles with small hooks, rather than the usual round teardrops. These heads can stick to each other, forming clusters of up to 35 sperm. Scientists have reasonably assumed that the sperm swim better as a team, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the groups are faster; sometimes, they barely move.

Heidi Fisher from Harvard University knows why. Together with Luca Giomi and L Mahadevan, she created a mathematical model that simulated the swimming sperm. It showed that while groups don’t swim any faster, they do swim straighter because each cell cancels out the wobbling movements of its neighbours. Their speed stays the same but their velocity—their speed in a straight line—goes up.  “The aggregate gets to the finish faster,” says Fisher.”

Learn more from Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Don’t Pop That Bubble Wrap! Scientists Turn Trash Into Test Tubes

Hate to burst your bubble, glass lab gear. But plastic bubble wrap also works pretty well at running science experiments.

Scientists at Harvard University have figured out a way to use these petite pouches as an inexpensive alternate to glass test tubes and culture dishes. They even ran glucose tests on artificial urine and anemia tests on blood, all with the samples sitting inside bubble wrap.”

Learn more from NPR

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