Monday, January 24, 2011

Top 5 Most Amazing Examples of Animal Communication

by Andrew Latham

Animals might not have a "proper" language in which to communicate, but communicate they do and in an amazing variety of ways.

Top 5, Ants.
How do you organize a collective society of thousands of members without being able to say a word? Ants have found the answer in chemical communication. Ants have from 10 to 20 chemicals in different glands of their bodies depending on the species. Depending on the chemical released ants can signal alarm, invite friends to eat from a new food source or even organize military tactics when attacking an enemy, to mention a few of the 50 standard behavior patterns that have been observed by zoologists.

One of the most curious examples of ant's chemical communication is how they recognize dead ants when they sense the oleic acid that is released when an ant's body starts to decompose. A scientist with a dark sense of humor experimented with this method of communication by dropping a spot of oleic acid on a live ant. The other ants dutifully carted away the "dead" ant, screaming and kicking, to the cemetery outside the nest and continued to do so no matter how many times the poor "undead" ant walked back.

Top 4, Elephants
Elephants communicate a wide range of emotions using "elephant talk" by a combination of sound and body language signals that range from low frequency rumblings to high frequency trumpets, roars, bellows, barks and snorts. Interestingly many of the sounds in "elephant talk" are well below the level of human hearing but are so powerful elephants can hear them from several miles away.

Elephant communication is so complex; it is difficult for researchers what to make of it. Joyce Poole is a researcher that has dedicated over 20 years to the study of "elephant talk" has witnessed greetings between elephants that have been separated for a long time that included rushing together with their heads high up while flapping their ears and even putting their trunk into one another's mouth in a way of communicating the joy of meeting after a long time. Such communication and displays of affection strengthen the social networks between elephants.

Top 3, Bees
The search for food is always at the top of conversation subjects in animals and humans alike and bees are no exception. Searching for food is serious business for bees and finding it is a complicated ritual. Once food is found it is important to communicate the exact location to the rest of the hive. This is done by an amazing form of communication based on a series of dancelike movements that inform the hive of the quality and location of the food.

How do the bees communicate this vital information? The location of the food source is indicated by the rhythm of the dance and by the orientation of the axis of the tail with respect to gravity. If the food source is near the hive, a "round" dance is performed. A "tail-wagging" dance indicates that the food source is more than 80 meters (260 feet) away. This dance transmits precise information about direction as well as distance. The number of dance cycles performed by the bee in a certain length of time is inversely related to the distance of the food source. Thus, about 10 cycles are performed every 15 seconds for a food source 100 meters (330 feet) away, but only one cycle is made in that period if the food source is 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) away.

Top 2, Lions
Although lions are not renowned for their small talk skills research has shown that they are excellent communicators. A male's mighty roar is an obvious warning that can even freeze a prey or a male rival in its tracks. But lions are not all about killing, they are social cats, they will also roar just to keep in touch with the other members of the pride. This type of roar is softer and less assertive. One researcher reported a lion that was heard roaring every 15 minutes until his cousin answered. The chit chat continued for over 15 minutes until they finally met up to hang out, after which the roaring stopped.

Top 1, Plants talking to Animals
I know, plants are not animals but they still deserve Top 1. You will not believe how some plants display amazing skills communication with other plants and even animals in order to save their necks, or should I say stalks.

Lima bean plants, for instance, will release a chemical distress signal when attacked by spider mites that attracts other mites that enjoy feeding on spider mites.

Similarly, corn, tobacco and cotton plants when invaded by caterpillars will segregate airborne chemicals that attract wasps, a sworn enemy of caterpillars. This form of communication is not just a case of saying I am hurt, or hungry, or where to find food, it is a fabulously complex system that allows plants to call for the right type of help when needed and even warn other plants. For example, willow, poplar, alder and birch trees when attacked by caterpillars, fungus or powdery mildew will send out chemicals to jump start the defense systems of other undamaged plants.

Learn more from Andrew Latham at website

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Need a Hero

by Randi Bildner, Founder of The Bully Beat

It's 1995; I sit in the stands of Yankee Stadium and close my eyes. I listen carefully as the umpire shouts the familiar words "Play Ball!" As I allow this term to penetrate my being it's not hard to imagine 1958, "the good ol' days," a time when players and fans alike came together simply for the love of the game.

Taking in the true essence of "The House That Ruth Built" I can almost hear this benchmark term echo throughout stadiums across America. This tradition, signaling the start of "America's favorite pastime" has not changed but everything else has. Sadly this reality encompasses all sports and any realm that potentially lends itself to the birth of a hero. Looking around, things seem familiar, comfortable, good; families gather for an evening to watch their "heroes" take the stage.

Upon closer inspection something, everything has changed; for now, it is 2011, a lifetime away from the world the baseball players of 1958 knew when they graced these "sacred" grounds.

Looking back at a baseball roster for 1958, the names hit hard like the crack of the bat when Boston's Ted Williams hit the 17th grand slam of his career. Heroes one and all were playing for what would now be considered meager salaries. Their true wealth was their legacy— for these are the names that will live in our hearts forever.

Sadly, I understand those days of fun and innocence are long gone. Today's athletes play their respective sports very well (both figuratively and literally) causing a direct impact on the nature of these games and how we choose our heroes.

Once upon a time, a hero earned his or her title. Back then we too thrived as individuals and as a culture. Today with the collapse of morality, when our president personally phones Jeffrey Lurie (owner of the Philadelphia Eagles) to congratulate him on giving convicted dogfighter Michael Vick "… a fair second chance," we find ourselves in a sorry state and it's time to rework "humanity's code of ethics." Those who choose to forget Vick's actions mirror who and where we are in today's world.

Children lacking proper role models suffer from the inability to know right from wrong (particularly while their parents sit in the stands and cheer for criminals).

In April 2007, Michael Vick was implicated in an illegal interstate dogfighting ring that had operated for over five years. In August 2007, he pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and served 21 months in prison. Court documents show Vick personally participated in killing dogs; some were hanged, some were drowned, some beaten to death (their bodies slammed against cold concrete floors breaking their backs) and some were electrocuted.

This is not the simple thuggery that so many of Vick's peers (and their fans) consider to be part of the normal trappings of today's sports culture. Nor is it the occasional sensationalized celebrity misdeed over which we secretly thrill. These casual, habitual and routine brutalities would brand the average person insane.

"Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest." ~W.H. Auden

My question: Why should a society be allowed to grant forgiveness on behalf of the murdered? HOW a society can forgive reprehensible actions where the victims are so pure, so innocent and the crime is so heinous is unfathomable?

Our society is divided when it comes to forgiving Michael Vick. WHY?remains a mystery to those who abhor Vick's actions at Bad Newz Kennels—Vick's personal "house of (canine) horrors".

While it is quite obvious that forgiveness comes easy for those whose conscience has been replaced by "big bucks," it remains perplexing how others not only forgive but heroicize a member of a deviant subculture whose mental constitution is the makeup of a sociopath.

According to actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg, Vick should be forgiven because of his "culture." Ms. Goldberg defended Vick on the television show The View stating; "From where he comes from (in the South U.S.) dogfighting is not that unusual. For many people, dogs are sport." Goldberg continued, "There are certain things that are indicative to certain parts of our country." Goldberg surmised Vick's actions were a result of the mindset behind those he encountered while growing up.

Flash Forward… Vick had been playing for the Atlanta Falcons for six seasons before he was caught and admitted to federal criminal charges. It was during this time (while employed by the NFL) that Vick decided to moonlight as a dogfighter. The fact that he traveled in "certain" circles and lived "the life," (Vick's culture had drastically changed) could be one retort to Ms. Goldberg's ill-thought remark; another, stating culture to be the cause for a person to act as a deviant is not only a cop-out but is insulting.

Some acts can be forgiven and some not. Recently, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Dr. William Petit. Winfrey asked Petit if he could forgive the men who brutally tortured and murdered his entire family, setting his house on fire (while he lie on the basement floor unconscious). Waiting for Petit's answer, I silently repeated, "NO, please, do not let him forgive." I wanted to cheer when this husband and father of two stated a firm "NO" in response to Oprah's question.

In this day and age when an actress can gain notoriety through sexting, when the distinction between heroes and criminals are virtually non-existent, when deviants get to play a game for millions of dollars, when our nation's eyes are truly lonelier than ever (collectively we might wonder) "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio….?"

Please visit Randi Bildner's wonderful website The Bully Beat

© The Bully Beat and Randi Gerzofsky Bildner. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

3rd Annual Florida Week for the Animals February 5-13, 2011

Florida Week for the Animals highlights the importance that animals play in our lives and bring communities together on behalf of the animals throughout the great state of Florida.

Animal World USA is pleased to announce that the 3rd Annual Florida Week for the Animals is scheduled for February 5-13, 2011. The special governor-proclaimed week will highlight the importance that animals play in our lives and bring communities together on behalf of the animals.

This statewide event is designed to celebrate and build awareness on behalf of all animals, as well as recognize the organizations and citizens who support them. The Florida Week for the Animals is once again bringing together educators, advocates, animal shelters, rescue organizations, sanctuaries, businesses, students, musicians, artists, community leaders, and caring citizens in an exciting week of community-building activities.
The exciting week will feature pet adoption festivals, wildlife activities, educational events and exciting variety of community events statewide. All these events will shine the spotlight on the amazing animals, beauty and people of Florida.
The week presents a unique opportunity to change the history for the animals by collectively coming together through all our goodwill. The official website with the amazing calendar of events is is

Precious lives which will be saved and communities will be transformed during this week through a wide variety of events and activities.
If you would like to learn more or become involved, please call 877-454-0807 and/or visit the official website for complete contact information. You may also learn more about the Animal World USA Weeks campaign at