Questions tagged [zoology]

Use this tag for questions involving animal biology; evolution, ecology, physiology, behavior, genetics, and marine biology.

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42 votes
6 answers
8k views

Can a frog be slowly boiled alive without it noticing?

It's commonly believed that a frog will not perceive a rise in temperature, and will boil alive. And, of course, if it were to be put in already-boiling water, it will immediately jump out. Any ...
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7 votes
0 answers
1k views

Can cows accurately predict when it is going to rain?

And do they show when they know it's going to rain by lying down, as the common saying suggests. Or is this just folklore? A quote on this Discovery Channel discussion board says this: Cows are quite ...
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19 votes
2 answers
5k views

Can any fish climb trees?

I recently came across the following quote on the twitters, attributed to Albert Einstein: Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole ...
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19 votes
2 answers
6k views

Did Catherine the Great die of injuries from a horse?

Perhaps I have been reading the wrong kind of scurrilous literature, but I have seen it asserted that the Empress Catherine the Great of Russia died from injuries received by committing unnatural acts ...
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15 votes
2 answers
2k views

Do fish grow to the size of their fishbowl?

There are many variations of this popular idea, but some the main formulations would be: Fish will never "outgrow" their fishtank (small fishbowls will result in smaller fishes than larger ones, for ...
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  • 768
17 votes
1 answer
25k views

Are birds pushed out of the nest?

Is it true that most birds learn to fly by being pushed out of the nest? I've seen this most often in cartoons and quoted all over the net. Here is an example quote: A fledgling is a baby bird ...
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  • 18k
12 votes
1 answer
7k views

Do dolphins attack dangerous sharks?

I've heard numerous anecdotal claims of people being rescued from shark attacks by dolphins. One source mentions that such rescues happen "surprisingly often", and cites three unreferenced incidents, ...
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  • 9,376
20 votes
1 answer
10k views

Bumble bees shouldn't be able to fly?

There is a common belief that according to the known laws of physics, bumble bees should not be able to fly. The quote usually goes something like this: “Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn'...
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48 votes
1 answer
3k views

Do mice love cheese?

It's common knowledge that mice love cheese. Do they, or is it just that they'll eat anything that's available? What's the origin of the mouse-cheese belief?
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18 votes
4 answers
3k views

Are some breeds of dog inherently dangerous, despite training?

On another SE site, this report was cited as evidence that some breeds of dogs are inherently more dangerous than others. I have some serious issues with that report (not least of which is that it is ...
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  • 9,376
25 votes
1 answer
28k views

Will cats eat their deceased owner, but dogs will starve to death instead?

A friend of mine is a former prosecutor for the Crown/State. He's observed that it was often harder to investigate whether a deceased person was murdered when they own cats because the cats will eat ...
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14 votes
1 answer
6k views

Will rats eat/burrow through human flesh?

I remember reading about this as a form of ancient torture, but I am unable to find evidence that is suggestive of that. I did however find on this wikipedia page uses a heavy chain to tie a ...
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12 votes
1 answer
7k views

Can dogs love their owners?

A common assumption about household pets is that there is a mutual endearment between owner and pet. Searching the internet finds handfuls of people asking the same question and there are plenty of ...
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  • 6,115
32 votes
6 answers
29k views

Do other animals have non-reproductive sex?

You can view the lecture here. At about the 11:40 point the claim is made that humans are the only species that engage in non-reproductive sex. Is there solid evidence for or against the idea that ...
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21 votes
3 answers
11k views

Can a cat's purr heal injuries?

I've read it on Wikipedia's article about purring (in French), which I will paraphrase as follows: Veterinarians think that cats heal fractures etc. more rapidly than dogs. [citation] A hypothesis ...
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36 votes
1 answer
2k views

Can cats be herded?

On the site for this year's Amazing Meeting, there's a little joke about how organizing skeptics is like herding cats It's a common belief that (possibly) due to their strong will and independent ...
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24 votes
2 answers
5k views

Can dogs smell fear?

Ever since childhood I've been told that if you encounter an unfamiliar dog, you should not show fear, because if you do, the dog is more likely to become aggressive. I have been told that this is ...
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13 votes
1 answer
693 views

Do elephants never forget?

There is a ubiquitous belief that "elephants never forget". I know we aren't suggesting that elephants have unlimited memory, but have there ever been any scientific studies/case studies that suggest ...
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8 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is there a negative correlation between parenthood and pet ownership?

That's what a friend of mime recently stated. I.e. if one owns a pet one is less likely to be parent and vice-versa. Are there any data available to support such a claim? I'm sceptical, because there ...
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  • 283
20 votes
3 answers
3k views

Has there ever been a cryptid proven to exist?

Has there ever been a cryptid proven to exist? A creature that general scientific consensus had regarded as being a myth for a long time, but finally proven to be real.
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  • 4,261
28 votes
1 answer
20k views

Can kangaroos walk backwards?

Source From Exploring Nature: They cannot jump backward because of their thick, muscular tail. Their long feet and heavy tail also make walking impossible, forward or backward. The ...
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  • 47.6k
32 votes
2 answers
9k views

Did an ostrich pull off its own head?

In The Runaway Brain by Christopher Wills, the author illustrates the fact that ostriches aren't too bright by saying that an ostrich has been recorded as getting tangled in the fork of a tree, ...
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9 votes
0 answers
4k views

Will putting peanut butter or butter on a cat's paws help them to not get lost?

It is a common wives' tale that putting peanut butter (or sometimes just butter) on a cat's paws will help a cat not get lost in a new environment. Advocates of this give many varying reasons why it'...
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  • 1,028
32 votes
1 answer
5k views

Are (wild) elephants afraid of mice?

Source I have heard from people working in zoos that the myth of elephants being afraid of mice is not true. Here is a short video of a zoo elephant clearly not caring about a mouse. I don't find it ...
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55 votes
3 answers
66k views

Can cats survive a fall from any height?

So here's the premise. A cat reaches its terminal velocity after around 10meters of free fall. A cat can survive a landing from a speed equal to its terminal velocity. Therefore a cat can survive a ...
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8 votes
2 answers
6k views

Do cats always come back home from anywhere?

It is said that no matter how far you take away a cat from home, it always come back from anywhere. Is that true? Obviously, this pre-supposes that: Home is some place that the cat lived in for a ...
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  • 2,343
10 votes
1 answer
833 views

How likely is it that the Ivory Billed Woodpecker is not extinct?

Currently at the JREF forums, there is a big debate going on about possible Ivory Billed Woodpecker sightings. This bird has been thought to be extinct for over 50 years, and no reliable sightings ...
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81 votes
1 answer
8k views

Do Ostriches bury their heads in the sand

I have always believed that Ostriches when frightened bury their heads in the sand. Upon closer re-examination of this belief, I came to the following conclusions: Ostriches typically live in arid ...
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190 votes
4 answers
30k views

Will a mother bird abandon her young if touched by a human?

Welcome to installment #2 of my "the science of animals falling" series of questions.... I've heard it said many times since childhood that if you are to find a baby bird on the ground which appears ...
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20 votes
3 answers
8k views

Why do cats and dogs fight?

From our daily experience we know that most of the time cats and dogs are involved in fights rather than in expressions of affection. Is there an evolutionary basis(justification) for this? Why would ...
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  • 620
185 votes
1 answer
21k views

Do cats always land on their feet?

Assuming a fall from a survivable height, will a cat always land on its feet? Has this been studied? Is there real data to back it up?
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15 votes
1 answer
2k views

Do dogs commit suicide at Overtoun Bridge?

Over the last 50 years, many dogs have jumped to death from Overtoun Bridge in Scotland for no apparent reason. There are many popular explanations for this weird phenomenon. According to one of them, ...
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  • 251
17 votes
1 answer
843 views

Does having a pet help to cure your depression?

According to the community based website Curetogether spending time with a pet helps people with depression. Is there peer reviewed research that makes the same recommendation?
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22 votes
2 answers
4k views

Do dogs know when their owner is coming home through some form of telepathic link?

My friend cited a study by Rupert Sheldrake which ran an experiment over several years that video taped dogs, showing that dogs knew when their owner was coming home due to some psychic link. He ...
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  • 18.6k
13 votes
1 answer
45k views

Chickens that lay eggs twice a day

I have heard that chickens can actually lay multiple eggs in a single day. Is this possible? I know that leghorn hens usually lay eggs every 25 hours or so (for an annual total of about 280-320), ...
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  • 241
18 votes
4 answers
9k views

Is eating cloven-hoofed animals, bottom-feeders or ruminants bad for you?

The Torah and Talmud claim (and I have Christian friends that also claim) that eating animals that are bottom-feeders or ruminants—That is, eat the crud off the sea-floor, like shrimp, or digest ...
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  • 4,827
56 votes
1 answer
15k views

Are humans the only species to have homophobes?

Here's a quote that's being passed around: Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is only found in one. Which one seems unnatural now? With all the good intentions behind what's ...
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  • 3,117
43 votes
1 answer
8k views

Is chocolate bad for dogs?

I once had a dog that was fairly frequently given chocolate, and I never noticed any consequences. I heard somewhat recently that chocolate is bad for dogs. Is this true? Certainly, too much ...
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  • 3,563
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

The extinction of the thylacine: could some still survive?

(Image comes from Wikimedia Commons) The last known thylacine died in 1936, and the species was officially moved from 'endangered' to 'extinct' in the 1980s. Since the last living specimen died, ...
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