System Status: Mail server SSL certificate updated; some older mail clients (e.g., Eudora) are having problems. See welltech.374 for more info.


inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #26 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 11:55
    
No, lots of animals are no more encoded at birth than we are.  (And we
ourselves have lots of built-ins we don't even notice.  Such as the
ability to sneeze, blink, duck, etc.)  Some animals have lots of stuff
hard-wired, some have certain things hard-wired and not others, but you
can't be hardwired for everything, or when your environment changes,
you won't be set up to survive under the new conditions, and you will
o extinct.  Which I hate.

As for lower animals, that really isn't a useful way to think about
it.  Neither is "primitive", since animals that evolved long ago
didn't then *stop* evolving.  If they're doing something with old-
fashioned equipment, it's because it works for them.

Some birds do a lot of learning, especially birds that live in a
wide variety of environments, like most corvids---you know, crows,
ravens, jays.

And some fish learn like crazy, especially coral reef fsih, who live
in complicated environments crowded with many species.  I found this
great paper by three scientists who've studied fish (and other kinds
of animals), grumbling that people ignore fish when talking about
cognition:  "[W]e are able to provide fish examples for almost all
the phenomena that are currently being discussed in the context of
primate intelligence."  They note that there are fish who recognize
each other as individiuals, fish who know each other's voices, fish
who live in extended families, fish who appease higher-ranking fish in
their group, fish who keep track of whether other fish are playing
fair, fish who copy other fish, fish who learn traditional migrations
routes or nest sites, fish who join other fish in ganging up on
predators, fsih with long memories, etc.  My favorite of their examples
is the one about the groupers who invite moray eels to go hunting with
them.  The groupers swim to the moray's cave, and shimmy invitingly.
About half the time they do this, the moray accepts the invitation &
comes out, and they cruise along the coral searching for prey.  When
they find a prey fish hiding in the coral, the eel wriggles in and
chases it out, and the groupers grab it when it makes a dash.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #27 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 12:06
    
(booter), sadly, those tiger cubs with the German shepherd are not in
the book themselves.  That picture is from the Australian veterinarian
who owns the dog: he had clients who were breeding tigers (why, I have
not learned), and who freaked when their cage was flooded out and would
no longer care for the cubs.  So they gave them to the veterinarian,
who has that very motherly dog, who was already caring for a mountain
lion cub (the cub on the far right), and who welcomed the little tigers.

There are other stories of great cats being raised by dogs in the book,
however, and the dogs generally do a great job.  If the cats are then
meant to live in the wild, this is not perfect, however, since they
can't teach them how to hunt like a great cat.   (The book does include
the story of Leo, the orphaned lion cub who seems to ahve acquired the
ambition to be an Australian cattle dog.)  If the cats are then meant
to live in captivity, this is not an issue, but if there is only one
cub the new problem may be that the cub, seeing no other great cats,
may not view great cats as suitable mates when it grows up.  This is
thought to have happened with Victoria, an Amur tiger cub who was
raised by Rosemary the dog.

So in that picture, the tiger cubs will probably do well, and the
mountain lion cub probably will too, although it may display an
uncanny interest in tigers when it grows up.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #28 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 12:10
    
(loris), right now one a la mode idea is that of "modules," discrete
cognitive/behavioral packages in the brain oriented toward certain
tasks.  This helps explain why a person or an animal might be very
smart about/easily able to learn about one thing or situation, and
clueless about others.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #29 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 12:14
    
I too think sibling influence is underestimated.  As noted above,
tiger cubs raised by a dog can still figure out that they are tigers
if they have each other to look at, but if raised alone (and not by a
tiger), mixups may ensue.

Marc Bekoff, who studies canids (coyotes, dogs, wolves) and who is
very interested in play, suggests that many animals develop a sense
of fair play & social justice in the course of play.  Animals do play
fair, taking turns, reversing roles, and handicapping themselves so
that they don't hurt each other, and so that even the smaller animals
get a chance to play the mighty hunter.  Little coyotes who don't play
fair become unpopular---the other little coyotes won't play with
them.  And often the other little animals are siblings.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #30 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 12:18
    
Dolphins of course appreciate style, but are not known to favor
*particular* styles.  I don't know of any place in California for
hanging out with dolphins.  In general I think it's cruel to keep
dolphins in captivity for the puropse of being swum with.  But there
are places in the world where wild dolphins will sometimes swim
with people quite voluntarily.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #31 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 12:23
    
I don't have any statistics on how often dolphins try to molest their
playmates (like certain unfortunate moray eels in the dolphin tank at
a certain zoo in South Africa), but I am confident that it happens
far more often in captivity.  A bored dolphin can come up with some
pretty bizarre behaviors.  A funny example is the summer at one
oceanarium when all the dolphins went crazy for seeing if they could
balance on the tops of the walls around their tanks.  Usually they
could, but sometimes they fell out onto the walkways around the paths,
and the oceanarium workers had to get together and heave the dolphins
back into the tanks.  (We're talking about hoisting 400 slippery pounds
over a waist-high wall.)  When the workers saw dolphins jumping up to
try to balance on the walls, they would yell at them to stop, but the
dolphins found that even more entertaining.

Luckily it was just a one-summer fad.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #32 of 232: Martha Soukup (soukup) Fri 16 Jul 04 12:29
    
Whoa, glad none of them got seriously hurt.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #33 of 232: thomas pynchon (plum) Fri 16 Jul 04 12:36
    

There was that guy at the meeting who seemed to be saying that there
were perky playful dolphins around here.  I know there's a place on the west
coast of australia that's a human/dolphin playground.

speaking of captivity, in Thailand there is an elephant "training" center.
Tourists pay to live with and ride elephants and allegedly tell the
elephants what to do.  However, when the elephant doesn't agree, she goes
over to the water supply, fills up, and then soaks the human in elephant
spray,


I am dying to meet an elephant, but wonder if this is a bad thing.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #34 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 12:55
    
Obviously, whether dolphins or elephants, you should wear a wetsuit.

The person at the reading said that dolphins come and swim alongside
his boat, although I am not sure whether that was in the Bay or
outside the Golden Gate Bridge.  Dolphins do like to swim along
moving boats, but you don't: it's COLD in the water here, plus you
can't swim as fast as either the boat or the dolphins.  I have
kayaked in Hawaii and had lovely white-sided dolphins come and swim
alongside the kayaks and give us the eye.  ("Yup.  More tourists.
True, they don't have cameras, but they are definitely tourists.  I'd
say they're from the mainland US.  Kind of pale, maybe from the East
Coast.  That one urgently needs paddling lessons.  Let's go get some
pink snapper.")
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #35 of 232: thomas pynchon (plum) Fri 16 Jul 04 12:58
    

note to self:  build contraption.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #36 of 232: Fawn Fitter (fsquared) Fri 16 Jul 04 14:00
    
One thing that totally fascinated me in your book was how often
animals of all species raise changelings -- babies born of other
parents, sometimes even parents of another species. Obviously, that's
an advantage for the babies! But maybe not so much for the parents?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #37 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 14:19
    
It wouldn't seem to be an advantage for the parents, would it?  One
possible exception might be in some species of birds in which pairs
raised babies in nests in the same colony or neighborhood as other
pairs.  It often turns out, if you actually do the DNA testing and
the observation, that the eggs in a given nest do not all have the
same father.  In fact they do not all have the same mother, since
females can either lay eggs in somebody else's nest, or carry (in
their bills!) eggs to another nest.  The result of this "distributed"
parenthood is that a bird a) spreads the risk; and b) has insurance
against vicious neighbors.  If one pair's nest is destroyed, say all
the eggs are eaten by a sneak, each may have some offspring in other
nests---so the risk is spread.  And since the neighbors have been
spreading the risk too, *they* can't just wander over in a bad mood
and peck holes in your eggs, because some of those eggs might be
*their* offspring.

So it takes a village, if the village is Peyton Place.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #38 of 232: Reva Basch (reva) Fri 16 Jul 04 15:04
    
I stared at that cover photo for the longest time, trying to figure out
whether it was Photoshopped.

So let me ask an editor-type question: How did you decide to do this book,
and how did you go about it? Did you just start collecting delightful and
fascinating anecdotes about how animals learn until you reached critical
mass and some themes started emerging? Or what?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #39 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 15:14
    
(Oh, that "sneak" in post 37 was supposed to be a "snake.")

No, I believe the cover photo is not Photoshopped.

I decided to do some other books first, but those didn't pan out.
This was the first one that editors went for, and that they proposed
to do in a reasonable manner (the unreasonable proposals are related to
other books that didn't get done).

I suppose I did start to collect anecdotes until themes emerged.  Some
things I had to search particularly hard for: stuff about tigers; stuff
about learning to walk/swim/fly; and of course, stuff in obscure foreign
journals.  How I love Interlibrary Loan.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #40 of 232: E M Richards (booter) Fri 16 Jul 04 15:20
    

I have to admit, I laughed at the story of the smartassed dolphins
who leaned out of the tank and had this idea - I wonder if dolphins
do that cat thing - "I MEANT to do that."

As for dolphins getting jiggy, I talked to a guy who worked with them
for something like 6 or 8 years. He said dolphins are incredibly horny
and they will masturbate with all sorts of things. One dolphin broke
some poor fish's back and used it as a playtoy. Also dolphins can get
rough with tourists.

That said, there are dolphins that swim alongside boats in the Golden
Gate. When I said goodbye to the partner of a friend in a Neptune Society
think, the dolphins escorted our boat back under the GG Bridge.

Sumac, did you do many interviews or was it mostly reading type research?

(If you ever do a junket to visit animal handlers, I'd love to be in
your posse. I am starting to think I should have become a zookeeper.)
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #41 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 16:05
    
I didn't do many interviews --- let's see, I talked to some tiger
keepers, at a zoo and at a shelter.  I talked to panda people at the
National Zoo.  I talked to a spear-winged bat researcher, a bat
rehabber, the people who wrote the book on keas.  I didn't get
stuff I could use from all of this, as when I went to the Academy
of Sciences and talked to the octopus person, but it was still fun.
I visited a hyena colony, and I emailed with Saba and Dudu Douglas-
Hamilton, filmmakers who told me about the lioness that adopted the
oryx calf.  I interviewed my mother and sister about their animal
experiences.  I talked to Greta McMillan, who told me about the red
pandas learning to get vaginal swabs in exchange for access to a bowl
of apples.  And I interviewed (bradburn) about his pig experiences.

Junket!  I love the idea.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #42 of 232: thomas pynchon (plum) Fri 16 Jul 04 17:40
    

It would interest our readers to hear of the pig experience.


Do you think humans are more intelligent than crows?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #43 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 18:31
    
Which human?

Which crow?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #44 of 232: thomas pynchon (plum) Fri 16 Jul 04 18:54
    

how far is the distance between the intelligent crow and the cretin crow?

the humans have a way of measuring intelligence -- does this only apply to
human ideas of intelligence?  I am wondering if crows et al have an
intelligence in a direction that we can't fathom.

how do you become a crow?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #45 of 232: Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 16 Jul 04 19:08
    
re: big cats being reared as/by dogs:
was struck when watching a documentary on the raising
of cheetah kits/cubs/whatever in captivity by
how much the adolescent cheetahs seemed like dogs
to me: the same sitting looking for a snack,
the same friendly attention to the perceived
alpha animal (i.e. human caretaker) --- all so very
different from how i think of -cats- being.
you could see the caretaker sort of dealing
with the cheetah the way you do with dogs
and not cats (the playful pat on the
butt, for example).
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #46 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 20:29
    
Well, human ways of measuring intelligence are not satisfactory to all
humans.  As for the range between brilliant and cretinous crows, I am
not sure.  The range in their relatives the ravens seems to be pretty
great, though.  When Bernd Heinrich tested ravens by hanging dry
salami (which the ravens loved) from long strings on perches, so that
the only way they could get it was to land on the perch, pull the string
up as far as they could, anchor it under a foot, pull it up some
more, anchor it again, pull up, and eat the salami---when, he did this,
a few ravens instantly knew what to do, most took a while to figure it
out, and a few never learned, even when they saw others do it.  So
quite a range among not that many ravens.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #47 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 16 Jul 04 20:31
    
I have never understood why cheetahs are so doggy, but they are.  They
even seem to have coarse doggy fur.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #48 of 232: Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 16 Jul 04 20:37
    
ah, i see. so cheetahs, like abyssinian cats, are intrinsically
very doglike cats. useful to know, somehow...and why am i not
surprised that you would know this? [g]
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #49 of 232: My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Sat 17 Jul 04 10:00
    
disclaimer: i have not yet read the book.  But I have a question--what is
instinct?  ok some more quesitons--what is the difference between instinct
and learned behavior?  and what is the difference between instinct and
sensory response?

I guess, throughout my life, i have heard so many people attribute animal
behavior to instinct, yet whenever I observe animals, that seems to be a
vast reduction of what is actually occurring.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #50 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Sat 17 Jul 04 11:39
    
Scientists keep trying not to say "instinct" or "innate."  They keep
inventing terms like "fixed action pattern" and "behavior module" but
then they find themselves saying instinctive all over again.

My view is that every animal, including us, has some hardwired (this
is the currently fashionable term at least in speaking) behavior and
some learned.  A bee is lot more hardwired than a bonobo, but even a
bee learns things and has the capacity to learn tasks scientists set,
like "nectar is in the asymmetrical fake flowers, not the symmetrical
fake flowers."

But a lot of behavior comes from the interlocking of instinctive stuff
and learned stuff.  One simple example: baby chicks do not know what
water looks like.  They can be dying of thirst, standing in the middle
of a puddle, and not realize that relief is underfoot.  But this
doesn't last long, because chicks automatically peck at every speck
they see, and so they will peck at the first speck they see on the
surface of water, get a beakful, and make the connection.  (They also
learn not to peck at things like their own toes and chicken droppings.)
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

 
   Join Us
 
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us

Twitter G+ Facebook