7 Animals that are Now Evolving – Most of the time we know that evolution is a slow process. It can take up to millions of years before these subtle changes will actually take place in every living thing become dramatic enough for us to see. However, some species are changing so quickly now that we can actually watch it happen.
As it turns out, many of the assumptions we have made about certain animals are not true at all. Yet many of us keep repeating these faulty stories from myths and incorrect studies that have since been debunked. Let us examine 7 erroneously believed animal “facts” that really aren’t factual in the least.
7 Common Misconceptions about Animals
1) The Zebra’s Black and White Stripes is not camouflage. This is a myth that has been circulating for years and years. However, scientists have long since debunked this camouflage theory, and we still have no clue why their stripes exist.
This myth most likely came about as humans observed zebras from a perspective of human vision. It seemed like a good reason that by having a confusion of colors it would allow them blend into their surroundings.
2) Piranhas do not devour anyone who jumps into piranha-infested waters. We have seen this myth promoted on TV and it movies which makes us think that it is a death sentence to swim with piranhas. The fact is that they do not kill mammals for food. This is because their normally eat carcasses that are decomposing.
Even when they get desperate for food, they will typically eat other fish and even insects – not an entire cow. This myth was largely promoted after Teddy Roosevelt returned from an Amazon trip.
3) Penguins are not as sweet and adorable as people think. The fact is humans have not had a lot of interaction with penguins, yet we like to view them as lovely creatures that live in under some of the planet’s harshest conditions. Even how they like to walk is seen as cute.
The fact is that these terrible creatures commit perhaps the most heinous acts of depravity in the entire animal kingdom. For instance, the male Adelie penguin who live in Antarctica often engage in rape and necrophilia. This was initially documented by a scientist from Britain who studied them during an expedition that took place from 1910 to 1913.
Also female emperor penguins have actually kidnapped the chicks from other penguins to compensate for a lack of fertility. And if they were opposed, they get extremely violent. In fact, these female emperor penguins have resorted to kidnapping chicks from totally different bird species as well and attempted to raise them as one of their own.
4) Pigs do not sweat and they are not nasty. So when people use the term “sweating like a pig”, it is just plain wrong because pig do not have working sweat glands. This is why they get in the mud, so they can cool off.
Also, contrary to what most people believe, pigs are actually pretty clean animals. In fact, most of them would give some of the cleanest humans in the world a run for their money. We got this misconception about them because of the places on a farm where they are forced to live.
Pigs that live in the wild will not pass any bodily waste near the area where they live. Some of them even wash their food before they eat.
5) The Female Praying Mantis does not always eat its male lover. Even the Discovery Channel has clearly said that the female eats the head of the male praying mantis that she is mating with.
However, biologists conducted a test to see if this popular belief is true, and they discovered that it was not. The female praying mantises that had done this were in captivity. As it turns out, this environment is totally different than what this creature would prefer. They actually would choose a private space in their normal environment. Previously, there were several people in lab coats hovering over them, closely examining their every move.
And the praying mantis couples that were used in these early tests were also very hungry and starving. So actually, the male praying mantises were just as likely to eat their sexual partners as would the females were.
So whenever scientists actually set up the conditions that mimicked there actually preferences, they observed a radically different outcome. From 69 different experiments, there was just one female praying mantis who ate her male after mating with him.
6) Cockroaches most likely would not survive a nuclear annihilation. This myth has circulated throughout the Internet for years. It most likely came from the rubble and aftermath of Nagasaki and Hiroshima where they observed a few cockroaches after the bombs were dropped. But they were not the sole creatures to have survived.
While it may be true that cockroaches could have a bigger resistance to extinction and radiation than some other living creatures, more current studies have revealed that they would probably be the very first bugs to get wiped out whenever one of these big bombs reach the ground.
7) The Alpha Dog Training Technique is not applicable to domestic dogs. Several dog trainers and dog training methods talk about the alpha dog technique. This means that you assert your dominance and let the canine know who is in charge since that is how things work in the wild.
This technique comes from the belief that all wolf packs have an alpha wolf, who is the dominant leader that calls all the shots. Therefore, dogs are in the same family and should be trained the same way.
As you might have known, it is a very cruel way to train your dog. And it actually points out a basic misunderstanding about the way that real wolf packs work. This alpha male theory comes from very early research pertaining to pack behavior, but only in an unnatural environment. More recent research about wolf packs in the wild has totally debunked these original conclusions.
Brand new studies are recently indicating that animals seem to be smarter than people originally thought. It was discovered that dogs truly do have social abilities and very advanced cognitive behaviors. Scientists have actually learned that wild African dogs conduct votes by sneezing.
Hypothetical Testing of Dogs
The question become just what amount of self-awareness do these dogs really have? Dr. Alexandra Horowitz who is a psychologist from Bernard’s College in New York, was curious to find these out. She and her associates tested a hypothesis that was proposed by Italian biologist Prof. Roberto Cazzolla Gatti who comes from the Russian Tomsk State University. Horowitz and his associates performed two experiments at Bernand’s Dog Cognitive Lab.
There is a very famous test of self-awareness which is known as the mirror test. Since the 1970s, the scientists have been utilizing this test. You simply get a mirror and then observe a subject reacts to the mirror. If subjects touch themselves instead of the mirror, then the animal is deemed as being self-aware. Orangutan and bonobos tend to recognize themselves in the mirror, and so do dolphins. However, thus far, we are stilling trying to determine status of chimpanzees. And dogs will typically bark at the mirror, mostly thinking it is another dog.
Assessing the Results
The major innovation from all this about dogs is how they navigate through their environment using their amazing sense of smell. So rather than using a standard visual mirror, Horowitz and his associates created an olfactory one. These discovering have been were posted in the publication Behavioural Processes.
Back in 2001, a biologist name Marc Bekoff couldn’t help but notice while taking dog Jethro for his daily walk that his dog was much more interested in the scent from the urine of other dogs than his own urine. This must indicate that Jethro already knew what his urine smelled like. Bekoff then performed his very own study across five straight winters. He purposely moved around the urine from Jethro and those belonging to other dogs to determine exactly what his dog would recognize and what he did not recognize. This study has been called the infamous “yellow snow” study. Bekoff determined Jethro “clearly had some sense of ‘self’: a sense of ‘mine-ness’ but not necessarily of ‘I-ness’.”
Dr. Horowitz took this notion and extended it as he borrowed from both Bekoff and Prof. Cazzolla Gatti. The latter study that was conducted in 2016 has been proposed as the “Sniff test of self-recognition (STSR).” Horowitz actually conducted two experiments. In the first of these studies, she gathered 36 dogs as well as their owners. They let these dogs run free to see if they would stop to smell any of the three canisters that were contained within their penned-in area.
One of these canisters possessed their own urine, the second one has the urine of another dog, and then the third one had their urine again but with an additional scent that had been added in. Experiment number two used just 12 dogs and modified the third urine canister to have scent that was more neutral. In both of these experiments, it was discovered that the very last canister drew the most interest from the dogs.
There is also a modification of this mirror test which is called the mark test. If there is a mark put on a mirror, a bonobo will actually try to remove the mark from his own face. This action actually indicated more self-awareness. These animals know how they are supposed to look, they know when something is wrong, and they know it can be fixed.
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