The Scorpion and the Frog

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Rats giggle when they’re tickled and flatworms fence with their penises. Who knew? Explore the science behind animal behavior and see where we fit in this quirky world.

Miss Behavior
102 posts

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  • February 20, 2013
  • 01:14 PM

Did that Rock Just Ink on Me? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Sam Brunner and Ian Straus Cephalopods, like octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, are well known for their ability to alter the color and patterns on their bodies for better camouflage, mimicry, and even communication. By developing a unique set of camouflage tools, cephalopods excel at not being seen or being seen but not detected as a cephalopod. There are videos all over the internet showcasing how squid can terrify divers with their flashing red displays, or how some octopuses avoid their p........ Read more »

  • February 13, 2013
  • 11:32 AM

Friends Without Benefits: A Guest Post

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Joseph McDonaldDo you want to avoid the friend zone? Photo by DREAD the friend zone. That heart-aching moment when the girl you’ve been fawning over for years says you’re the best listener, the sister she never had, or so much better than a diary! You’ve been so nice to her and her friends, listening to all their drama. But that’s just the problem... you’re too nice to too many people. Research performed by Aaron Lukaszewski and Jim Roney at the Universit........ Read more »

  • February 6, 2013
  • 10:21 AM

Birds, Vitamin E, and the Race Against Time: A Guest Post

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Alyssa DeRubeis The long and tapered wings on this young Peregrine Falcon means it was built for some serious speed! Photo by Alyssa DeRubeis.Maybe you’ve been put under the false assumption that humans are cool. Don’t get me wrong; our bodies can do some pretty neat physiological stuff. But I’m gonna burst your bubble: humans are lame. Just think of how fast we can run compared to a Peregrine Falcon in a full stoop: 27 MPH versus 242 MPH. Keep thinking about all the cool things birds c........ Read more »

  • January 30, 2013
  • 01:55 PM

Origins of The Scorpion and The Frog and the Social Brain

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Starting a weekly journalistic-type blog is a daunting task, especially for someone who is holding down other jobs (as most bloggers do). But I can't be happier that I started down this path in order to share with you all these wonderfully quirky stories of animal behavior and physiology. This week, I am happy to announce that The Scorpion and the Frog turns 1! It has been a remarkable first year: We've covered topics from whale dialects, to birds that kill their "siblings", to steroids and domi........ Read more »

  • January 23, 2013
  • 02:28 PM

The Real Catfish of Lake Tanganyika

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Photo of Manti Te'o by Shotgun Spratling and Neon Tommy at WikimediaPoor Manti Te’o may just be the most gullible schlub on the planet. For those of you that haven’t heard the story, the Notre Dame linebacker and runner-up for the 2012 Heisman Trophy led his team to the BCS National Championship Game, despite (or perhaps inspired by) the tremendous personal losses he has suffered this season. Last September, Te’o learned first of the death of his grandmother, and then within hours learned ........ Read more »

  • January 2, 2013
  • 11:18 AM

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Become Babies

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

We celebrate the New Year as a time of rebirth, renewal, and do-overs. We join gyms, swear off our bad habits, and promise to be better people. This is especially true for those of us that have had a rough 2012… Our 2013-version-of-us has got to be better, right? But what if you could get a real do-over? What if you could be a kid again, grow up again, and become a brand new person? As far-fetched as it may sound, some animals do exactly that.Cnidarians (the “C” is silent) are a huge group........ Read more »

Piraino, S., De Vito, D., Schmich, J., Bouillon, J., & Boero, F. (2004) Reverse development in Cnidaria. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 82(11), 1748-1754. DOI: 10.1139/z04-174  

Miglietta, M., & Lessios, H. (2008) A silent invasion. Biological Invasions, 11(4), 825-834. DOI: 10.1007/s10530-008-9296-0  

  • December 19, 2012
  • 10:23 AM

Not Fair! Even Dogs Know the Importance of Gift-Equity

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Don't leave out your best friend whengift-giving this holiday season! Photo by Ohsaywhat at Wikimedia.When I was a child, I think one of the things that stressed my mom out most about the holidays was making sure that all of us kids got Christmas gifts worth the exact same amount. Why all the fuss? Because if the value of the gifts wasn’t equal, we were guaranteed to spend our holidays in a chorus of “Not fair!” cries rather than appreciating the holiday bounty and cheer around us. As a sp........ Read more »

Range F, Horn L, Viranyi Z, & Huber L. (2009) The absence of reward induces inequity aversion in dogs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(1), 340-5. PMID: 19064923  

  • November 28, 2012
  • 10:19 AM

Mr. Nanny Makes Mr. Right

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Quick! Introduce yourself to this guy before his baby-high wears off! Photo by David Castillo Dominici at What happens if you take a wrestler or action star and force him to babysit obnoxious but lovable kids? Well, if you’ve seen movies like The Pacifier with Vin Diesel, The Tooth Fairy with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kindergarten Cop with Arnold Schwarzenegger, or The Spy Next Door with Jackie Chan, you know that he will fall madly in love both with his young ........ Read more »

Kenkel, W., Paredes, J., Yee, J., Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., Bales, K., & Carter, C. (2012) Neuroendocrine and Behavioural Responses to Exposure to an Infant in Male Prairie Voles. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 24(6), 874-886. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2012.02301.x  

  • November 21, 2012
  • 01:10 PM

Competitive Females

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Paula Broadwell, the aggressive competitor. Photo from her Facebook page. By now, you’ve probably heard all about Paula Broadwell, the woman that seduced the notoriously disciplined CIA director, four-star US Army general, husband and father, General David Petraeus. What kind of a woman might be able to sway a man that has such admirable self-control? Broadwell was Petraeus’ biographer, a West Point graduate with a Harvard graduate degree, an Army Reservist thrice recalled to active duty, a ........ Read more »

  • November 7, 2012
  • 10:10 AM

Political Animals

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Now that we are finally on the other side of one of the longest, most expensive political campaign seasons of United States history, we find ourselves with a new mixed-bag of leaders. Our nation’s decision-makers include career politicians and new freshman politicians; they include lawyers, military members, doctors, businessmen, farmers, ministers, educators, scientists, pilots, and entertainers; they include Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Quakers, Mormons, Buddhists and Muslims; they include ........ Read more »

  • October 31, 2012
  • 11:48 AM

True Blood: Vampires Among Us

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Who is your favorite vampire? Are you a fan of Edward Cullen, Bill Compton or Stefan Salvatore? Or do you prefer the classic Dracula, elegant Lestat, or butt-kicking Selene?Vampires have fascinated us since the Middle Ages, when a hysteria of vampire sightings spread across Eastern Europe. We now know that many of these “vampires” were actually victims of diseases like tuberculosis or bubonic plague that cause bleeding in the lungs (and elsewhere), resulting in the disturbing effect of blood........ Read more »


  • October 24, 2012
  • 11:32 AM

The Smell of Fear

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Several animals, many of them insects, crustaceans and fish, can smell when their fellow peers are scared. A kind of superpower for superwimps, this is an especially useful ability for prey species. An animal that can smell that its neighbor is scared is more likely to be able to avoid predators it hasn’t detected yet. Who can smell when you're scared? Photo provided by“What does fear smell like?” you ask. Pee, of course. I mean, that has to be the answer, right? It........ Read more »

Brown, G.E., Jackson, C.D., Malka, P.H., Jacques, É., & Couturier, M-A.,. (2012) Disturbance cues in freshwater prey fishes: Does urea function as an ‘early warning cue’ in juvenile convict cichlids and rainbow trout?. Current Zoology, 58(2), 250-259. info:/

  • October 10, 2012
  • 11:54 AM

Mind-Manipulating Slave-Making Ants!

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

An entire colony enslaved by an alien species to care for their young. Slave rebellions quelled by mind manipulation. It sounds like science fiction, right? But it really happens!Myrmoxenus ravouxi (called M. ravouxi for “short”) is a slave-making ant species in which the queen probably wears a chemical mask, matching the scent of a host species in order to invade their nest without detection. Once inside, she lays her eggs for the host species workers to care for. Armies of M. ravouxi worke........ Read more »

  • October 3, 2012
  • 11:44 AM

It Feels Good When You Sing a Song (In Fall)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Most male songbirds will sing when they see a pretty female during the breeding season. But some male songbirds sing even when it’s not the breeding season. Why do so many birds sing in fall at all? Maybe singing feels good… But how do you ask a bird if it feels good to sing? European starlings are one of those bird species that sing both in spring (the breeding season) and in fall (not the breeding season). Lauren Riters, Cindi Kelm-Nelson, and Sharon Stevenson at the University of Wiscons........ Read more »

Kelm-Nelson, C.A., Stevenson, S.A., & Riters, L.V. (2012) Context-dependent links between song production 1 and opioid-mediated analgesia in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). PLOS One, 7(10). info:/

  • September 19, 2012
  • 12:22 PM

Why Reptiles Won't Wear Fur

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Have you ever seen a furry lizard? A fuzzy snake? A wooly turtle? Me neither. That's because a reptile in a permanent fur coat would whither like Superman with a pocket full of kryptonite. But why? Other animals are so content in their soft, luxurious layers... Why can't reptiles be?"I wouldn't be caught dead in that fur coat you're wearing". Photo by Naypong at Animals exchange heat with their environments in four major ways: conduction, convection, radiation and evaporat........ Read more »

Autumn K, Liang YA, Hsieh ST, Zesch W, Chan WP, Kenny TW, Fearing R, & Full RJ. (2000) Adhesive force of a single gecko foot-hair. Nature, 405(6787), 681-5. PMID: 10864324  

  • September 12, 2012
  • 01:29 PM

What Do Animals Think of Their Dead?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

You’re running around, going about your day, and suddenly you see a dead guy lying in the sidewalk. What do you feel? Sad? Scared? Do you look around to see if you might be in danger too? Would you feel any differently if the dead body on the sidewalk were that of a squirrel, and not a human? Do animals share these same emotional and thought processes when they come across their own dead?Teresa Iglesias, Richard McElreath and Gail Patricelli at the University of California at Davis pondered th........ Read more »

  • September 5, 2012
  • 11:25 AM

Mmm… The Scent of a Stud

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Your smell can say a lot about you… How often you bathe, for example. But in many species, smells can communicate much more… What else might they be saying? And how do you ask them?What secrets to we hidewhen we put on deodorantand perfume? Image Field crickets are one of many species that use pheromones, compounds released by an animal that affect the physiology and/or behavior of others of the same species. Female field crickets can recognize individual males by t........ Read more »

  • August 29, 2012
  • 09:37 PM

Magnetoreception is Not a Party For a Supervillain

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

The majority of the more than 650 species of North American birds migrate. In search of food and nesting sites, some birds travel short distances and others (like Arctic terns) travel up to 12,000 miles each way. But all of them have to figure out where they are going, and much of how they do this is still unknown.This is a magnetite rock. Scientists think many animals have magnetite in their brainsto detect magnetic fields! For real?! Photo byRob Lavinsky at and Wikimedia. Last week,........ Read more »

Cadiou H, & McNaughton PA. (2010) Avian magnetite-based magnetoreception: a physiologist's perspective. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface / the Royal Society. PMID: 20106875  

  • August 22, 2012
  • 10:27 AM

A Sixth Sense

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Birds have long been known for their incredible navigational abilities. More than 4000 years ago, ancient Egyptians used carrier pigeons, the domesticated descendants of wild rock doves, to carry urgent messages to distant lands. They proved to be cheaper, faster and more efficient than human messengers and their use spread throughout the Mediterranean, central and northern Europe, and then throughout the world. Yet it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that scientists began to ask how they do it. To ........ Read more »

  • August 15, 2012
  • 10:31 AM

Cooperating For Selfish Reasons

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

If you were a young adult Ethiopian wolf, you would have a choice to make: Should you be a member of a monogamous breeding pair or a helper to an already established breeding pair (who are probably your parents)? The choice seems obvious, right? I mean, who wants to be a helper? Why should you forgo all the glory and status of being part of the breeding pair to be a babysitter? The Governess painted by Rebecca Solomon in 1851 shows a modestly-dressed Victorian era governess (in black) who dil........ Read more »

Marino, J., Sillero-Zubiri, C., Johnson, P.J., & Macdonald, D.W. (2012) Ecological bases of philopatry and cooperation in Ethiopian wolves. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 1005-1015. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-012-1348-x  

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