Unusual Animal Behaviours

Animals exhibit a plethora of behaviour – from maternal instincts to anti-predation tactics. These behaviours are quite normal and are also necessary for the survival of the species. However, some animals exhibit unusual, almost anthropomorphic behaviour.

Gambling Pigeons
A study published in Proceedings B, a research journal of the Royal Society, hinted that pigeons gamble in a manner similar to humans. Researchers had constructed a device that was similar to human slot machines. The pigeons were then trained to peck at a different set of keys, with each key set to dispense a specific number of food pellets. Researchers observed that the pigeons repeatedly pecked at the key which randomly gave out ten pellets as opposed to the other key which consistently dispensed three pellets. This essentially showed that the pigeons, just like human gamblers, prefered to try for the jackpot than to play it safe.

Farming Ants
Humans are not the only organisms that know how to farm. Some species of ants tend to tiny insects called aphids, just like how human farmers tend to cows for dairy and meat. The aphids secrete a sugary substance from their alimentary canal. The ants feed on this substance for their growth and development. In return, the aphids are protected from their natural predators by the ants.

Moreover, some species of ants, such as the leafcutter ants, are known to grow fungi. The ants carry bits of leaves to their nest, where the fungi are grown. Then, the ants will consume the fungi.

Ritualistic Elephants
No other herbivorous animals, let alone most mammals, are known to have a recognizable ritual related to death. Decades of research and observation have also confirmed the findings.

Researchers have described that elephants will throw leaves and dirt at the dead elephant, symbolizing a kind of mourning ritual. The elephants would also stand over the body for days together, only leaving to get food or water. Researchers speculate that the reason why elephants exhibit such behaviour is due to an extremely large hippocampus, an important part of the brain that is linked to emotion and memory.

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