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April 16, 2005

A World You Never Experience

Rats Like to be Tickled


I don't know what they intended to be studying, but what Jaak Panksepp, of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and his students found was a clue to the origins of laughter. It seems that rats enjoy being tickled, just as children enjoy being tickled, and rats will even become conditioned to the approaching hand and will react with laughter as it approaches, just as do children:

[They]...found that the rodents emit gleeful "chirps" when playing, but only at ultrasonic tones five times higher than the human ear can hear. Once Panksepp hooked up an ultrasonic detector to listen in on rats in his lab and started tickling the animals, he realized the effect on them was dramatic.

"We used our hands as if they were playmates and pounced and tickled the rats with our fingers. The chirping sounds were out of sight, just out of sight," said Panksepp, who wrote about the studies in this week's issue of the journal Science. "The animals became bonded to you and came back for more. Every possible measure of whether they like it shows yes, they love it."
--ABC News (Not linked, because clicked from anywhere but Google, it redirects to a registration page.)

The laughter is at a frequency range that doesn't travel far, thus helps to protect them from predators which can hear the range, and keeps the rest of us from hearing it at all.

Bees See Things We Cannot

JB: This is Earth and Sky, with a question from Anita Sutherland.

DB: She writes, "I am a teacher at South Side Elementary School in Johnson City, Tennessee. One afternoon, my class was outside watching a large bumblebee hovering over a bright yellow rose. One child asked, 'Can bees see colors we can't?' "

JB: Anita, what we see as sunlight reflects from objects -- and all visible light is part of a larger spectrum of energy. Bees can see ultraviolet -- a color humans can only imagine -- at the short-wavelength end of the spectrum. But, unlike humans, bees can't see red -- at the longer wavelength end of the spectrum. Red looks black to bees.

DB: Many flowers have ultraviolet patterns on their petals. Bees can see these patterns. They use them as visual guides -- like a map painted on the flower -- directing them to the flower's store of nectar. Some flowers that appear non-descript to us have strong ultraviolet patterns.

JB: Bees' eyes are different from our eyes in other ways as well. For example, honeybees can perceive movements that are separated by 1/300th of a second -- so that if a bee flew into a theater, it could differentiate each individual movie frame being projected.
--Earth and Sky, apparently a children's webzine which would, unfortunately, baffle and/or bore most adults.

The point is that we tend to think that we see the world as it is, and most of the time, what we see usually, in fact, is. But we only see a very small slice of the universe. Other creatures see other slices. The world is different to them.

And that's true for other humans, as well. For instance, some humans are completely colorblind - and they don't know it. I was shocked when I took a color blindness test and failed on a certain bit of red. Perhaps I should not have been, because I remember once when I was young, my grandmother pointing up at the side of a mountain in early fall and asking, "Isn't all that red on the side of the mountain beautiful?", to which I responded, "What red?"

It's just something to think about.

Posted by Jeff at April 16, 2005 06:39 PM


I'm colour normal. Hey. I'm normal!

Posted by: kenny at May 23, 2005 02:07 PM

rats liked to be tickled! my hamster wouldnt even let me hold him!

Posted by: Rachaelann at November 30, 2006 09:00 AM

last time i went to tickle my hamster it bit me!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: savannah at November 30, 2006 09:02 AM

i put my rat on it's back and try and tickle it's belly but it will bite me

Posted by: mollie at January 20, 2007 07:35 PM

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