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inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #51 of 232: Reva Basch (reva) Sat 17 Jul 04 11:53
    
re: 46 -- Perhaps not all ravens like salami to the same degree?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #52 of 232: My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Sat 17 Jul 04 12:04
    
I wonder how animals (including us) experience the hardwired or instinctive
behavior from the inside.  Is there a feeling of either terror or pleasure
somehow associated with it--a danger! feeling or an oooh baby! feeling?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #53 of 232: Low and popular (rik) Sat 17 Jul 04 12:21
    
One real good test is to stop breathing.    Your body will eventually over-
ride your will.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #54 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Sat 17 Jul 04 12:31
    
(pdl), we have more instinctive behaviors than we usually realize.
In our own case, we often rationalize such behaviors as if they were
things we decided/thought about.  "Of course I closed my eyes!  I  didn't
want to get poked in the eye!"  "Of course I was mad!  Wouldn't you be
mad if you were minding your own business and some jerk jumped out at
you and shouted 'BOO!'?"
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #55 of 232: resluts (bbraasch) Sat 17 Jul 04 14:24
    
"I know I threw my socks on the floor.  I was gonna put em in the 
laundry basket."
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #56 of 232: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Sat 17 Jul 04 20:43
    
On the subject of ravens and their differing affection for salami, I
offer my crow story (ok, not ravens, but it's still corvid):
http://tinyurl.com/3nwas

On a related subject to the learning thing, I'm wondering if different
baby animals demonstrate different aptitudes?  Like kids, who may be
better at math or drawing or sports.  Do different baby animals show
skill at different tasks?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #57 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Sat 17 Jul 04 20:55
    
David, that's a great story.  I am surprised that a crow wouldn't like
sunflower seeds, since they are usually favorites, being rather fatty.
I am so surprised that I wonder if you might not have the similar-looking
diet version: safflower seeds.  I can't tell from the picture.  Safflower
seeds are a bit smaller and have more black on them --- does it say
"sunflower" seeds on the package?

Different baby animals definitely show different aptitudes, within and
between species.  Of course, "aptitude" often means interest.  You're
interested, you pay attention, you try harder, you learn more....
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #58 of 232: resluts (bbraasch) Sun 18 Jul 04 13:56
    
just like kids.  do baby animals go through similar stages as children?

I'm thinking about teenage angst, not early childhood, but even a two 
year old is prone to say "I can do it myself".

How do their parents deal with these kinds of declarations?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #59 of 232: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 18 Jul 04 14:18
    
I'm learning a lot about ducks and chickens and rabbits by having
some, including baby ducks. Like that baby ducks snuggle up together,
tell each other about food and water, cry if they're separated...and
get raped by the daddy duck when reintroduced to him. sigh.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #60 of 232: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Sun 18 Jul 04 18:59
    
Hmmm... now I'm going to have to check out the bag.  They're
pre-shelled, sadly -- it's a "mess-free" mix.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #61 of 232: one big petri dish (jnfr) Mon 19 Jul 04 07:40
    
I must have odd birds in my yard, because all of them prefer safflower to 
black oil sunflower seed.

Susan, how do different aptitudes (or interests) in baby animals show 
themselves? 
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #62 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Mon 19 Jul 04 08:33
    
Teenage angst.  Hmmm.  I think animal children are less likely to be
caught in the bind between protected childhood and adult responsibility,
because they get pushed into adult responsibility sooner.  Of course,
this means higher mortality.

You definitely see "I can do it myself" in baby animals.  Although otters
are built for swimming, baby otters definitely have to learn that water
is okay to go into, and then how to swim and dive.  I loved the
descriptions of cautious baby otters going into shallow water and keeping
their hind feet on the bottom while earnestly paddling with their
forefeet, or of a baby otter trying its first dive, getting a nose full
of water, and indignantly getting out of the water.  Anyway, many otter
mothers have to lure their kits into the pond, the lake, the river, the
ocean---but other kits are ready to plunge in too soon, so there are
also descriptiong of otter mothers grabbing their ktis by the scruff of
the neck and dragging them *out.*
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #63 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Mon 19 Jul 04 08:51
    
Odd birds!  Well, most of my data comes from parrot-family birds, so
maybe that's a clue.

(jnfr), back in the first flush of enthusiasm for operant conditioning
in the early 1950s, when it seemed as if it could explain all animal
behavior, 2 of BF Skinner's students, the Brelands, started a business
to train performing animals using Skinnerian/operant conditioning
techniques.  They were quite successful, but they wrote a paper called
The Misbehavior of Organisms, which has gradually become a classic.  In
it they described how different species brought their own twists to the
training.

They tried to train a chicken to jump up on a pedestal and stand there,
anf discovered that it's very hard for a chicken to stand still.  The
chicken fidgets, and when a chicken fidgets, it scratches and pecks at
the ground.  So they adapted their training to the chicken, and ending
up "teaching chickens to dance."  For example, the chicken would enter
a little set, put a fake coin in a little pseudo jukebox, and scratch,
peck, and flap frenetically as the musical selection played.  Dancing
chicken!  But this came about because the chicken's natural behaviors
made it hard to train wht they originally wanted to train.

Similarly, they had difficulties teaching pigs and raccoons to put big
fake coins in a piggy bank.  In each case the animals started out
learning quickly and performing excellently.  But the pigs gradually
stopped trotting to the bank with the coins and started putting them on the
ground and pushing at them with their snouts---performing "rooting"
behaviors that are useful to wild pigs, and that pigs enjoy doing.
The raccoons could keep it together if they had just one coin, but the
minute they got 2 coins, they started fondling them, and rubbing them
together, and generally doing the "food-washing" motions that raccoons
are famous for (which are more about subduing crabs and crayfish than
they are about cleanliness).  They wouldn't put the coins in the bank,
preferring to rub and gloat and generally act in a disgracefully
miserly manner.

(jnfr), is that responsive to what you were asking?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #64 of 232: E M Richards (booter) Mon 19 Jul 04 10:16
    

I remember seeing dancing chickens at a place in Coney Island in the 60s.
I was underwhelmed. Maybe its because 1960s era Coney Island was no place
for any animal except a police horse or a cockroach.

I think animals go through phases as they grow. My kittens last year
went through interesting phases, like an extremely clumsy phase and
a bratty phase. The neatest thing was when Zero learned that a cat
does not say "Mee!", it says, "Mee-OW!"

What about octopi? Now, octopi are not constructed like mammals or birds
and they only live a couple of years, yet people say they are very smart.
Sumac, can you tell us about octopi?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #65 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Mon 19 Jul 04 10:40
    
Why yes, or at least I can speculate.  Octopuses are oddly intelligent
for invertebrates.  They can learn, they can learn by observing another
octopus perform a task (usually extracting a crab from a bottle sealed
in one way or another), and they sometimes play.

As you say, they're quite short-lived.  And they do not have the
protection of or example of a parent, since the mother octopus typically
dies while she is brooding the eggs.  And usually animals that learn a
lot are protected by parents and are long-lived.

It's not clear why octopuses need to and can learn so much.  Maybe it's
because they have complicated bodies---all those muscles, and their
movements are not simplified by having bones to lever against.  Also
they start out as very small larvae and grow to much larger size, which
means the size and kind of prey they seek changes.  (And they have to
catch it themselves since there are no helpful parents on hand.)

Also, we don't know that much about cephalopods.  It may be that many
of them have more social life going on than we know about.  Or maybe
not.  Many of them can change their skin color and texture to an
astonishing degree.  The recently discovered mimic octopus changes its
skin color & pattern, and the way it holds its body, to look like sea
snakes, flounders, and other creatures.  Some cuttlefish apparently
change their patterns to match the patterns on other cuttlefish.  We
really don't know how much of this is innate and how much is learned.

The fallback position is that octopuses do all of this automatically,
and indeed that they are colorblind and cannot see the colors they
produce on their bodies with chromatophores.  This seems bizarre,
but chameleons seem to change color without learning or insight into
what they're doing.  (Chameleon color changes are a lot simpler.)

So maybe even though they are short-lived and get no parental
guidance, octopuses and some other cephalopods have evolved to be
able to learn and succeed in a varied environment.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #66 of 232: Reva Basch (reva) Mon 19 Jul 04 11:32
    
How does octopus brain size compare with other invertebrates of their
general, uh, I don't know =what= to use as a basis of comparison, come to
think of it. What I'm trying to get at is whether something like the fact
that they have to coordinate all those limbs, somehow, has an effect on the
learning center(s?) in their brain as well.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #67 of 232: some kind of ethereal transitive tense thing (katecat) Mon 19 Jul 04 11:57
    
(just chiming in to say I've begn reading this book -- I'm about 50 pages in
-- and I urge it on you all. it's fascinating and also extremely funny.)
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #68 of 232: Reva Basch (reva) Mon 19 Jul 04 12:30
    
What Katecat said!

I just remembered another question I had. You mentioned that scientists are
currently reluctant to label behaviors "instinctive" or "innate". Why is
that? Is it a matter of fashion ("instinct is sooooo 1990s") or are they
just pissed because they can't find a biological basis for it, or what?
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #69 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Mon 19 Jul 04 19:24
    
Well, here's the thing about brains---different species do different
things with different part of the brain.  We are prone to say things
like "birds can't do that, because their cortex is minute!"  But there
are things we do in the cortex that birds do in the striatum.  Dolphins
do have a big cortex, but it's laid out differently.  And octopuses
have an even more divergent layout, including some decentralized
nervous stuff in the legs, if I recall correctly.  So big brain---tiny
brain tiny brain doesn't make a nice axis once you get away from our
closer relatives.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #70 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Mon 19 Jul 04 19:28
    
As for "instinct," it can be a huge hand-waving question-begging
evasion.  How do they do that?  Instinct!  How do they know?
Instinct!

It's much more useful to figure out exactly what stimuli trigger
what action patterns under what situations.  Otherwise, to just
say "it's instinctive" is not so different from saying "it's
magic!"  "it's God's plan!"  "because I say so!"  "They just do!"

But we don't know enough about many behaviors to give suitably
precise answers.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #71 of 232: resluts (bbraasch) Mon 19 Jul 04 19:30
    
I was sitting on a hillside watching a bunch of pelicans headed North 
and it seems to me the kids fly in back.  I could tell by their size and 
color, but also by the way they were getting tossed around in the 
thermals even though the lead birds were flying smoothly through them.

They were too busy trying to fly straight to have any teenage angst, it 
seems to me.  Maybe I should get some fans for the house.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #72 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Mon 19 Jul 04 19:38
    
Lessons from the Birds!
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #73 of 232: raisin d'etre (peoples) Tue 20 Jul 04 07:31
    
Last night my kitty caught a moth, but when she started playing with it, it
got away. I was thinking that the "playing with your food" model for hunting
is kind of inefficient if the goal is to end up well fed. Your meal has
a pretty good chance of escaping before you've eaten it.

<sumac>, are there any theories on why cats are driven to play with their
catch before they deliver the fatal bite/blow? 
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #74 of 232: With catlike tread (sumac) Tue 20 Jul 04 08:43
    
It seems that if you do tests to find out what cats like to do best,
what they will do as long as they may, until they get sick of it.

They like most of all to stalk.  They like next to pounce and grab, the
"playing with their food" stage.  They like next to kill their prey.  And
last they like to eat it.

This makes evolutionary sense, because in the wild cats have to stalk
many prey animals they never succeed in catching.  So the fact that they
have such an appetite for stalking gives them an advantage.  Then they
do in fact pounce and grab on some animals that still get away.  (A
hungry cat will go very quickly to the eating stages, and will not spend
needless time on this.)  They also kill prey they don't eat, such as
food for kittens.

So the things they like to do best are the things they need to spend the
most time doing.  Your cat doesn't really care if the moth gets away
without being eaten, and is just enjoying playing "with" it (with in
quotes to denote the nonconsensual nature of the moth's participation).
If you kept that cat hungrier, the moth-eating stage would come sooner.
  
inkwell.vue.219 : Susan McCarthy, "Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild"
permalink #75 of 232: Hoping to be a goddess, but settling for guru (paris) Tue 20 Jul 04 09:13
    

I once heard that the reason cats play with their prey before 
killing/eating it has something to do with preventing adult cats from 
eating newborn kittens.  Have you ever heard this, Susan?
  

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