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Analysis and Comment (19)

Jane Goodall is one of many scientists who have revealed how much there is to learn from animals about social organisation and communication. AAP/Julian Smith

If we could talk to the animals, what might they tell us about politics?

To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental about both animals and us. – Frans De Waal Some time ago I began reading scientific…
Zoos provide succor for species having a tough time of it in the wild. B. A. Minteer

Can zoos save the world?

Today, many zoos promote the protection of biodiversity as a significant part of their mission. As conservation “arks” for endangered species and, increasingly, as leaders in field conservation projects…
A number of studies link the abuse of animals in childhood with human abuse later in life. elizabeth tersigni

With animals, like humans, we can hurt the ones we love

When we talk about violence, there is an implicit assumption that we mean human-to-human violence. Yet behind the veneer of our civilised society, economy and culture is a massive edifice of violence of…
Our relationship with non-human animals must be understood as a question of morality. Patrick Bouquet/Flickr

Morality and our lives with animals

The traditional point of view in western intellectual thought – and one which is reflected in our own day-to–day views – is that of human exceptionalism, or anthropocentrism: the belief that humans are…
Animals in circuses are kept in anything but natural surroundings. DirkJan Ranzijn

Runaway camels? It’s time to rethink animals as entertainment

The idea of animals as spectacle – in zoos, circuses, aquaria, tests of strength and even criminal proceedings – is an old one, dating back to at least ancient Greece and Rome. Similarly, the use of animals…
Brazil’s cattle herd is the world’s second-biggest - and welfare standards are on the up. Zeloneto/Wikimedia Commons

Tighter rules mean Brazil is now kicking goals on animal welfare

While Brazil’s footballers have failed spectacularly to live up to expectations, there are other areas where the country is quietly exceeding them. Perhaps surprisingly, Brazil’s rapidly improving animal…
Your inner self. pureblacklove

The science of anatomy is undergoing a revival

Only two decades ago, when I was starting my PhD studies at the University of California in Berkeley, there was talk about the death of anatomy as a research subject. That hasn’t happened. Instead the…
Pets can also provide their owners with social support, acting as a friend and confidante. Crashing Waves/flickr

Why science can’t really tell us whether pets are good for health

Links between human health and pet ownership are of widespread community interest but there’s little clarity about the issue in scientific circles. It is relatively safe to say that pets can be good for…
Winter is coming. Clara do Amaral

Alaskan frogsicles take winter in their stride

For life to persist, it must tolerate its environment. The depth of an arctic winter is formidable, and is most notably overcome by hibernation. But some reptiles and amphibians survive by allowing their…
Good veterinary practices practice good hygiene - but you’d be surprised how few of them do. The National Guard

Why the low hygiene standards between vets and pets?

We all know hygiene is paramount in hospitals, necessary to protect patients and staff alike. But while medical staff usually wear protection when conducting examinations on infectious patients and hospitals…
Is photographing dogs dressed in suspenders and stockings just another internet fad or a strange reflection on human sexuality? Sharp Daily

Dogs in suspenders. Yep, it’s a thing. And here’s why.

When I was little, maybe five or six, I got the idea to slip my spaniel’s feet into freezer bags and watch her slide around on the kitchen floor. Sure, this episode could have sparked in me a yen for further…
The Easter Bunny is a much loved part of our social history but is the Easter Bilby more appropriate in Australia? AAP/Paul Miller

Bunnies or bilbies? Why animals define Easter

This Easter it is worth asking what the Easter Bunny is all about. Indeed, there’s more to the furry character than a fondness for chocolate. Rabbits were first domesticated by monks in the south of France…
The horse meat scandal seems to be more about the taboo issue of eating our pets than actual health concerns. Fredrik von Erichsen/AAP

Neigh-sayers: why we won’t agree to eat a dead horse

Imagine the following scenario. You go into your local sandwich shop for lunch and order a roast beef on rye with a dash of mustard. As you bite into the sandwich you notice something is not right. The…
Our relationship with four-legged friends has brought many benefits. JDEN

Canine and able: how dogs made us human

What role have dogs played in human evolution? Woof … now there’s a question. Anthropologist Pat Shipman, in a recent issue of American Scientist, suggests dogs gave our human ancestors an advantage over…

Research Briefs (4)

Animal propulsion a flexible matter

The superior agility of animal movement in comparison to manmade designs is characterised by the flexibility of animal propulsors…