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Page last updated: 5/2013
from Science Prof Online
Automeris moth female (top) camouflaged, with wings closed, male (lower), a brighter colored moth, with its wings open, displaying "eyes". Captured and posed. Obtained on Durham County, North Carolina, United States. Photograph taken by Patrick Coin.
Many different species of male birds have flashy feathers to attract females. The male Bowerbird (above), although downright dowdy, shows off to females by building an elaborately decorated bower instead (below).
Click link for a Word document exercise which allows students to practice the scientific method by designing a simple animal behavior experiment with pillbugs!
What Is Ethology? \ē-thä-lə-jē\
Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior (particularly how an animal behaves in its natural environment). From simple sensory responses to the complex interactions of highly social creatures, an animal's behavior all comes down to its attempt to survive and reproduce, ensuring that its genes are passed on.
The Biology of Animal Behavior
A beautiful example of form and behavior working together in an animal's survival is the Automeris moth. When its wings are closed, it is camouflaged. The moth opens it's winges when in danger, revealing what looks like the eyes of a larger animal.
In addition to learning more about the fascinating lives of animals, the study of animal behavior also helps us better understand ourselves and the evolution of human behavior.
For example, yawning is a very primitive type of behavior called a fixed action pattern (FAP). It's hard wired. Have you ever tred to stop a yawn once it's started? You can't. Once the behavior begins, it must play out to the end.
The existence of FAPs was first noted by ethology pioneers Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen who, in 1973, shared a Nobel Prize with Karl von Frisch for their poineering contributions to the field of animal behavior.
Want to learn more? Explore the links below or search the SPO site to see why animals and people do the things that they do. See the official web site of the Animal Behavior Society for even more ethology information.
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