Ravens Can Hold Grudges for Weeks, Study Finds


Never cross a corvid. Crows have been known to hold grudges, and research says that ravens do, too. A new study in Animal Behavior spotted by The Verge finds that ravens remember the nature of their interactions with humans and can remember how the experience went for up to a month afterward.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Vienna and Lund University in Sweden, presented ravens with two types of interactions with human experimenters: some that could be considered fair and others unfair.

The nine ravens had all been hand-raised in captivity by humans. (The paper delightfully includes their names, which are: Laggie, Tom, Nobel, George, Horst, Louise, Joey, Rocky, and Paul.) The birds were trained to exchange a low-quality food (bread) for something they liked more (cheese). The ravens had to take a risk in giving the human their snack, though. They could give away the bread and receive cheese in return, but there was always the chance that they would give away their bread and not get anything back.

In the experiment, each bird was given many opportunities to exchange its bread pieces with a human trainer. Another bird looked on, but couldn't participate. In some sessions, the participating bird interacted with a person who always gave them cheese in exchange for their bread. In other sessions, they interacted with a person who took their bread but ate the cheese themselves—an unfair exchange.

Later, the researchers tested whether the birds would show a preference for the person who had always been fair in their interactions. A month later, eight of the nine birds chose to trade with the experimenter who had previously shown themselves to be fair in their interactions over an experimenter who had cheated them in the past (the ninth chose a third, neutral experimenter). However, this only applied to the birds’ first-hand experiences. The birds who observed another bird’s fair or unfair interactions as a third party did not seem to remember who could be trusted and who could not.

Considering crows’ abilities to remember the people who slight them, it’s not terribly surprising that their raven cousins would be able to, too. Nor is it their only complex skill: Corvids can also use tools and practice self-control. Both of which should worry you if you make a habit of making ravens and crows mad.

[h/t The Verge]

A New DNA Test Will Break Down Your Cat's Breed


Modern DNA testing kits can reveal a lot of information about you just by sending your spit off to a lab for analysis. As a result, it's easier than ever to learn about your personal ancestry and health risks. And now, the same goes for your cat, too.

Basepaws is now offering what it calls the "world's first DNA test for cats," which can tell you which breeds your beloved fur baby likely descended from, in addition to other information about their characteristics. The CatKit will reveal whether your little Simba is more similar to an American Shorthair, Abyssinian, or one of the other 30 breeds on record, as well as determining which of the "big cats" (think lions) your kitty has the most in common with.

Here's how it works: After receiving your kit in the mail, you will be asked to collect a DNA sample from your feline friend. The current kit includes adhesives for collecting cat hair, but Basepaws will soon roll out new kits that call for saliva samples instead. (This will provide a more consistent DNA sample, while also allowing staff to process more samples at once, according to a company spokesperson. It also will make it easier to collect samples from hairless cats like Sphinxes.)

A cat DNA test result

Once you collect the sample, just mail it in and wait eight to 12 weeks for your report. Basepaws uses sequencing machines to "read" your kitty's genetic code, comparing it to the sequences of other cats in its network. "More than 99 percent of your cat's genetic sequence will be similar to every other cat; it's the small differences that make your cat unique," Basepaws writes on its website.

In the future, Basepaws will also be able to determine your cat's predisposition for certain diseases, as well as their personality and physical traits. The company holds on to your cat's genetic data, allowing it to provide updates about your cat as the Basepaws database continues to grow.

Order a kit on the Basepaws website for $95. Enter the code "MEOWRCH-I5W3RH" at the checkout for a 10 percent discount.

And don't feel left out if you're a dog lover rather than a cat person—Wisdom Panel offers a similar service for canine companions. Its kit is available for $73 on Amazon.

A Nubian Goat Named Lincoln Was Just Sworn in as the Mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont

iStock.com/Evgeniia Khmelnitskaia
iStock.com/Evgeniia Khmelnitskaia

Lincoln the goat may not be housebroken, but she had no problem winning the race for mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont. The new mayor was officially sworn in on Tuesday, March 12, and before signing the oath of office with her hoof print, she marked the occasion by defecating on the town hall floor, the Boston Globe reports.

Prior to getting into politics, Lincoln the droopy-eared Nubian goat lived a simple life. A local family looking for a way to maintain the unruly vegetation on their property had purchased her two years ago when she was 1 year old. At age 3, Lincoln transitioned from munching grass full-time to running for public office.

Though Lincoln's win is impressive, her election didn't involve beating any human candidates. Town Manager Joseph Gunter came up with the idea to hold an election for honorary pet mayor of Fair Haven as way to raise money for a new playground. For a $5 fee, local kids were allowed to nominate the pet of their choice to be town mayor. Lincoln bested more than a dozen candidates, including a gerbil named Crystal and a pacifier-sucking dog named Stella, for the position.

The stunt didn't raise much money—the town came away with just $100 for the playground—but it did earn Fair Haven international attention. In order to go down in history as world's longest-serving animal mayor, Lincoln has to stick around for a while; Stubbs the cat was mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska for 20 years.

[h/t Boston Globe]