A new study published by University of South Australia researchers points to the lifesaving role that pets have played in 2020 and why governments need to sit up and take notice.
Researchers compared how young companion dogs and companion pigs seek human proximity in a novel environment. It turned out that both dogs and pigs stay close to their owner if no other person is present; but if a stranger is also there, only dogs stay near humans, pigs prefer to stay away. The study reveals that living in a human family is not enough for early developing a general human preference in companion animals, species differences weigh in.
Two recently published studies from Kansas State University researchers and collaborators include important findings related to SARS-CoV-2 transmission and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Differences in skin gene expression were observed between healthy and atopic Staffordshire Bull Terriers as well as between dogs that ate either dry food or raw food. Raw food appeared to activate the skin's immune system as well as the expression of genes that increase antioxidant production or have anti-inflammatory effects.
Inspired by work on infants, researchers investigated whether dogs' behaviors are guided by human displays of preference or by the animals' own choices. They found that dogs' looking times, but not fetching behavior, were influenced by the owner's expression of preference. Although the studies did not demonstrate that dogs override their own preferences for an object, the results suggested that the owners' expressed preference was perceived by the dogs and guided their perceptual focus.
Bats wear face masks, too. Bat researchers got lucky, observing wrinkle-faced bats in a lek, and copulating, for the first time.
How can stress in animals be measured? Scientists from Uppsala University and elsewhere have now found that what are known as epigenetic biomarkers could be used to detect long-term exposure to stress in commercially raised chickens. This may, in time, lead to improved conditions in animal rearing. The study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Genetics.
An international team of scientists has used ancient DNA samples to elucidate the population history of dogs. The results show that dogs had already diverged into at least five distinct lineages by about 11,000 years ago and that their early population history only partially reflects that of human groups.
Bengalese finches -- also called the Society finch -- are a species of brown, black and white birds that don't rely on colorful signals when choosing a mate. Consequently, when presented with a color-perception test that their bright red-beaked cousins the Zebra finches routinely ace, they seem to be paying more attention to differences in brightness than hue.
Based on digital endocranial cast models the canine brain does not increase proportionally with body size. Researchers at ELTE Eötvös Loránd and Kaposvár University in Hungary reconstructed the surface morphology of 28 canine brains, including various dog breeds, wolves, coyotes, and jackals. The shortening of the facial skeleton greatly influences the ratio of certain brain regions, primarily the olfactory bulb and the frontal lobe. These changes might have profound implications for olfactory and problem-solving abilities.