Tag Archives: animal

The science of piano playing cats…?

Picture 2013-04-03 at 2.20.18 PM

An Animal Planet segment ponders how and why this cat seems to be playing the piano.  Animal behaviorist and UC Davis alumna Dr. Sophia Lin says that cats can hear and understand different tones played on instruments such as the piano.  Additionally these animals are born imitators and so this cat could very well be trying to communicate to her piano teacher owner.

Sophia researches animal behavior as a way for humans to better understand their pets:

“Pets don’t understand spoken language, they rely on body language plus desired or undesired consequences in order to learn. This means that humans must be aware of their movement and actions because every move they make while interacting with the pet influences the animal’s behavior and perception of them.”

Read more on her blog

Robotic squirrels vs. rattlesnakes

Picture 2013-01-24 at 3.42.46 PMUC Davis researchers go into rattlesnake country to study the interaction between snakes and squirrels. The snakes are real, but the squirrel is a robot.

“By bringing engineers and biologists together, we’re creating new ways of doing science.  Hopefully making discoveries that would not have been made unless we brought these different fields together.” – Sanjay Joshi

A number of former and current students have built the robosquirrels over the years, primarily from the S. Joshi and D. Owings labs at UC Davis, in close collaboration with the R. Clark lab at SDSU. Former PhD student Aaron Rundus built the first robosquirrel for his laboratory studies, assisted by Nick Giannini and Erin Chin. Former MS student Ryan Johnson built the first outdoor robosquirrel for field studies, with input from Matthew Barbour. Alex Barszap, Zac Dillow, Armen Davtyan, Laine Tennyson, and Travis Kupp have modified the squirrels in various ways for continuing field studies, with help from Bree Putman.