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Interactive video lesson plan for: 4 Surprising Behaviors in Nonhuman Animals | What the Stuff?!

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Some animals display weird behaviors, including some you might think of as human-only.

Article: 10 Surprising Behaviors in Nonhuman Animals

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Humans are pretty weird animals. Let me count the ways, right? But our nonhuman compatriots display weird behaviors of their own, including some you might think of as human-only:

Empathy: Experiments done at the University of Chicago showed that most rats will help an imprisoned rat pal escape for play and companionship. Even when the rats were presented with two cages, one containing a peer and the other a favorite snack like chocolate, they usually got their friend out first and shared the treat. This indicates empathy: The recognition of what another being is feeling, and sharing that feeling with them.

Holding a Grudge: At the University of Wisconsin, a group of scientists began trapping crows for research. Soon, other crows began harassing them whenever they stepped outside their lab. It didn't seem to matter whether the researchers changed clothes, so they experimented by wearing different masks around campus. Once they'd worn any given mask during trapping, the crows would pester anyone wearing that mask. One researcher even put on a mask that the team had used 5 years before, and birds still descended, Hitchcock-style – implying that older crows had been tweeting about which faces to watch out for.

Teaching: Most animals in the wild learn through observation and imitation, but some actively try to teach their peers what they know. Take, for example, the meerkat - which happens to include scorpions in its diet. Instead of teaching their young ones by just letting ‘em loose in scorpion-studded fields, they bring home dead or nearly dead scorpions for practice. And as the pups rack up fatalities, the parents bring back progressively livelier scorpions until the youngsters are skilled enough to hunt on their own.

Same-Sex Relationships: Scientists had long studied Laysan albatross at Kaena Point on Oahu for their apparent lifelong dedication to a single partner – interesting because only 5% of animal species form such strong relationships. Then they realized that nearly a third of the birds were actually in female pairs. They had observed the pairs protecting a nest, preening each other’s feathers, and displaying the albatross equivalent of PDA – but the males and females look similar, and the scientists never questioned the birds’ sexes. And some of these birds had been together for more than 15 years.

That’s all the animal behavior stuff we have time for today, but I wanna know: What weird and awesome behaviors have you observed in the nonhuman animals you hang out with? Tell me in the comments. And hey, if you dug this video, let me and my bosses know by hitting Like, and subscribe so you won't miss the next one. Oh, and to learn more, like how pigeons procrastinate and wolves grieve, check out our article "10 Surprising Behaviors in Nonhuman Animals" on HowStuffWorks.com.

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