Audio Sources - Full Text Articles

12 weird and fascinating things scientists caught animals doing in 2022, in pictures and videos

A collage of picture shows side-by-side images of a dolphin, a chimpanzee, and an aye-aye.A dolphin, a chimpanzee, and an aye-aye were among animals reported doing weird and amazing things this year.

Getty Images; Rogan Ward/Reuters; Anne-Claire Fabre/Renaud Boistel

  • Scientists are constantly learning more about animal behavior.
  • This year revealed nose-picking lemurs, music-loving rats, and venomous-snake-eating dolphins.
  • Here are 12 of the weirdest and most fascinating animal behaviors scientists spotted in 2022.

It was a prolific year for scientists studying weird and unusual animal behavior.

Here are 12 bizarre and amazing things animals were spotted doing, some of which had never been seen before.

1. A primate was spotted picking its nose for the first time

Side by side views of a aye aye picking her nose. On the left a video still, on the right a CT scan.A picture of an aye-aye picking her nose, next to a diagram of how deep her long digit goes into her skull.

Anne-Claire Fabre/Renaud Boistel

Kali, an aye-aye living in the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina, shocked scientists when she was spotted picking her nose and eating her snot on camera.

It was the first time this primate was seen engaging in the behavior most people associate with humans.

Kali inspired the scientists to investigate if other primates would pick their noses. It turned out that at least 12 species of primates had been reported doing so, a review published in the Journal of Zoology in October found.

Study author Anne-Claire Fabre from the University of Bern told the BBC at the time that this behavior is really under-studied.

“There is very little evidence about why we, and other animals, pick our noses. Nearly all the papers that you can find were written as jokes,” she said in a press release.

2. Orcas were seen ripping out a shark’s liver with surgical precision

People inspect the carcass of a great white shark.People inspect the carcass of a great white shark.

Cari Roets/Marine Dynamics, Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Rare footage showed orcas killing a great white shark by ripping out its liver, leaving the rest of the shark’s body behind.

Scientists, who noticed dead great white sharks were washing up on shore, captured the behavior using drones in South Africa’s Mossel Bay.

They attribute the killing to two male killer whales that hunt in Mossel Bay, nicknamed Port and Starboard.

Killer whales are known to be strategic killers, spending as little energy as possible for the best reward, Michael Weiss, the research director at the Center for Whale Research.

“Shark livers are extremely fatty, so there’s a lot of calories in there,” Weiss said.

Port and Starboard’s strikes have been so effective, great white sharks have learned to avoid Mossel bay, completely changing the local food chain, a study accompanying the footage said.

“The ability of two animals to reshape an ecosystem is absolutely fascinating,” Weiss said.

3. Orcas tipped a seal off of floating ice using a killer wave

killer whaleA killer whale.

Elaine Thompson/AP

Killer whales created a deadly wave as part of a coordinated attack against a seal. 

By swimming side by side close to the surface, the whales created a wave that knocked the seal off its block of ice. 

The footage, captured by BBC’s documentary “Frozen Planet II“, is a rare example of “wave crashing,” which has been seen in fewer than 100 whales, per the documentary.

4. A dolphin swallowed 8 venomous sea snakes

view from atop a dolphin shows yellow striped sea snake in the open ocean aheadA sea snake (indicated with pink arrow), moments before it is captured and eaten by a Navy dolphin.

US Navy/National Marine Mammal Foundation

A team of researchers secured GoPro cameras to two Navy-trained bottlenose dolphins while they roamed the waters off the coast of San Diego. The scientists wanted to see them do what they do best: hunt fish.

But one of the dolphins opted for a riskier diet of venomous sea snakes.

Cameras recorded her eating eight yellow-bellied sea snakes one day. Prior to this study, published in the journal PLOS ONE in August, there was no documentation of dolphins eating sea snakes — only playing with them and releasing them.

Ingesting venomous snakes can be dangerous, but the dolphin seems to enjoy it. In one video, below, it catches a snake and swims around with it for a while, jerking its head repeatedly to swallow the prey. Then it emits a high-pitched “victory squeal,” according to the study.

from on Vimeo.

5. A salamander went ‘skydiving’ from the top of a redwood tree

Stills from the video of A. vagrans gliding show the skydiving-like positionThe Wandering Salamander, seen assuming a “skydiving” position.


Aneides vagrans, also called the wandering salamander, lives all the way at the top of monumental California redwoods, nestled in the trees’ lush canopy.

So scientists were dumbfounded to see that when startled, the slender animal would throw itself from the 200-ft-high behemoths.

It turns out that these salamanders can glide through the air, which was completely unexpected, Christian Brown, a study author and PhD candidate at the University of South Florida, told Insider at the time.

Their long, narrow bodies don’t look particularly aerodynamic. Unlike their distant cousins the gliding leaf frog and the flying gecko, they don’t have skin flaps or webbing that could help them glide.

By adopting a position like a skydiver, as seen in the video below, the salamanders could adjust their trajectory to fall back toward the tree trunk, safely escaping their predators:

The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Biology in May.

6. Humpback whales went on a 3,700-mile booty call

The travel of one whale is shown on a globe.One male’s journey from Mexico to Hawaii to find a mate.

Google maps/Insider.

Scientists tracking humpback whales were astonished to find out just how far males would travel to mate.

Scientists analyzed a database of over 450,000 pictures of whales in the wild to track them. They found that some would swim thousands of miles during the mating season.

Two males were seen in two popular mating sites, one off the western coast of Mexico and one near Hawaii, less than two months apart. That’s a distance of around 3,700 miles.

The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Biology Letters in February.

7. Bees were less interested by flowers sprayed with fertilizers

An annotated picture of a bumblebee flying over flowers read "not interested" with an arrow pointing at the bee.A bumblebee searching for flowers to pollinate.

Robert Pickett/Getty Images/Insider

Like us, bees are attracted by certain smells and colors of flowers. But they also rely on another factor to decide which plant to pollinate: electricity.

As bees fly through the air, their bodies become positively charged. Flowers, on the other hand, can become negatively charged, especially if they haven’t been pollinated in a while. When the bees fly over plants, the hairs on their tiny bodies sense the flower’s electric field like a magnet.

But a new study suggests fertilizers being sprayed on flowers may mess with this finely tuned system.

The mechanical action of spraying the fertilizers on the plants and the chemicals themselves seem to change the electric field around flowers, which makes them unappealing to bees.

It’s not yet clear exactly what is happening, but it seems like the flowers almost become “too bright” for the bees after they are fertilized, Ellard Hunting, a study author and biophysicist from the University of Bristol, told Insider at the time.

“It’s blinding them,” he said.

The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal PNAS Nexus in November.

8. ‘Look mom!’ A chimpanzee showed her mother a cool leaf just like a human child

chimpanzee swings from treeA chimp swinging from a branch at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden sanctuary.

Rogan Ward/Reuters

Researchers spotted a chimpanzee showing her mother a leaf, seemingly just for the sake of seeing the leaf. This may seem unremarkable — humans show each other objects just to look at them all the time — but scientists previously thought that apes only pointed things out for a clear, practical purpose.

“She’s not offering it for food. She doesn’t want her mum to do anything. She just wants them to look at it together, and be like ‘Oh, cool, nice!'” Katie Slocombe of the University of York, a co-author of the study, told The Guardian.

When the mama chimp ignored the leaf and lowered her eyes, the daughter thrust it toward her face again. When her mother finally looked at the leaf, the younger ape finally withdrew it.

The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal PNAS in October.

9. Dolphins in the Black Sea stranded themselves more often than before, likely because of the Ukraine war

A stranded dolphin on the Black Sea.A stranded dolphin on the Black Sea.

rai36de/Getty Images

There has been an “unusual increase” in dolphin strandings and bycatches in the Black Sea since the Ukraine war started, Insider’s Kelsey Vlamis previously reported.

More than 700 deaths of dolphins and harbor porpoises have been recorded in Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine — countries that border the sea — in the spring and summer of 2022, according to a report from the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS).

Erich Hoyt, a research fellow at the UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation who consulted with the ACCOBAMS scientists, told Insider the deaths are probably due to the loud noises disrupting the dolphins’ day-to-day activities.

“Dolphins and porpoises rely on sound to navigate, find their food, and communicate with each other,” he said.

10. Rats bopped their heads to the beat of Lady Gaga

A rat (L), Lady Gaga (R).A picture of a rat next to a picture of singer Lady Gaga.

Getty Images, ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Scientists discovered that rats can bop their heads in time to music — as humans can.

In a study published in the journal Science Advances in November, researchers at the University of Tokyo fitted 10 rats with miniature accelerometers that could detect the slightest head movements.

One-minute-long snippets of the songs — including Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”, Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”, and a Mozart piano sonata — were played at four different speeds. Twenty people also listened through headphones with accelerometers.

“Rats displayed innate — that is, without any training or prior exposure to music — beat synchronization most distinctly within 120-140bpm, to which humans also exhibit the clearest beat synchronization,” Professor Hirokazu Takahashi of the University of Tokyo, lead author of the study, said in a press release.

11. Cool-headed raccoons were more likely to get into your trash

A racoon depressing a button that it has learned will provide a dog food reward.A raccoon pressing a button that it has learned will provide a dog food reward.

Lauren Stanton

Raccoons are beloved and bemoaned for rummaging through city garbage. Now, researchers say one quality has allowed certain raccoons to thrive in cities: how calmly they responded to new situations.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology in September, researchers in Laramie, Wyoming, explored how adaptable these mischievous mammals are by luring them with pet food in different scenarios.

Scientists believe the ability to solve problems in novel situations, using reason and thinking, is particularly important for urban wildlife, the lead author said in a press release.

12. Monkeys in Indonesia seemed to use stones as a sex toys

A long-tailed macaque is seen on the side road in Bangkok on February 25, 2021 in Bangkok, Thailand.A long-tailed macaque.

Vachira Vachira/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Indonesian long-tailed macaques were spotted possibly pleasuring themselves using stones. 

Researchers spotting the monkeys rubbing or tapping stones around their genitals and were curious to see whether this was a sexual behavior, Insider’s Vlamis reported.

They found the behavior was often closely followed by sexual physiological responses, such as an erection.

This means that the monkeys seemed to be performing “a form of self-directed, tool-assisted masturbation,” Camilla Cenni, a PhD student at the University of Lethbridge in Canada and author of the study, told The New York Times.

The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Ethology in August.

Though animals have often been spotted using tools, these usually are used to give the animal a clear survival advantage.

There’s much less research about the use of tools to derive sexual pleasure, which is “arguably not really adaptive or useful,” Cenni said.

Read the original article on Business Insider