A year ago I got to illustrate one of the endings in Ryan North’s brilliant Hamlet choose-your-own-path book To Be or Not To Be. These are all things you may be able to find outside right now (if you can bear to put down this amazing book).
Ever hear someone tell you that their dog is an attention hog? That their pup will get jealous if they “cheat on them” by playing with another pooch? Well, it looks like these claims of the pet owning public might actually have some scientific support in a recent PLOS ONE study.
Psychology professor Christine Harris and former student Caroline Prouvost of University of California San Diego, have conducted the first experimental test of jealousy related behaviors (like snapping or pushing at their owner / rival) in dogs.
Since this is the first study of its kind, they used an experimental test adapted for examining jealousy in 6 month old human infants. 36 dogs* were videotaped in their own homes under three conditions. In the first two, the owners ignored the dog in favor of a faux dog (stuffed toy that barked, whined, and wagged its tail) or a jack-o-lantern pail. Owners were instructed to treat the objects as though they were real dogs - talking to them, petting them, etc. In the third condition, owners were asked to read aloud to a pop-up book which played music.
The animated toy vs pail conditions allowed researchers to test if jealousy required that the owner show affection to (what appeared to be) a conspecific, or if affectionate behaviors towards a nonsocial stimulus would still trigger a jealous reaction. By adding the book condition, researchers could also test whether the dog’s behaviors in previous conditions were a result of jealousy (triggered by attention directed towards an interloper) or a general negative reaction to the loss of the owner’s attention.
They found that dogs exhibited jealous behaviors significantly more often when the owner was playing with the toy dog (78%) as when the owner was playing with the novel pail object (42%), as well as when the owners read the pop-up book (22%).
Figure 1: Comparisons of the proportion of dogs exhibiting each type of behavior in each of the three experimental conditions. (x)
A defining feature of jealousy is that it is a product of a social triangle. The cliche ‘love triangle’ if you will, that arises when an interloper threatens an important relationship. (x) Cliches aside, it should be no surprise that the majority of research on the evolution and functionality of jealousy has been in a romantic context. That is, it has focused on the fitness consequences of the loss of a romantic or sexual relationship (eg. potential vs actual infidelity). Yet there is also a larger view which argues that “jealousy evolved not just in the context of sexual relationships, but also in any of a wide-range of valued relationships” like those between siblings or friends. (x)
Under this broader functional view, it makes sense that jealousy would be expected to arise not only in humans, but in other social species where emotional bonds can be jeopardized by encroaching individuals. Harris notes that “many people have assumed that jealousy is a social construction of human beings - or that it’s an emotion specifically tied to sexual and romantic relationships. Our results challenge these ideas, showing that animals besides ourselves display strong distress whenever a rival usurps a loved one’s affection.” (x)
*Note: The 36 dogs were all under 35lbs or less than 15in. due to the potential for the jealousy experiment to result in aggressive behaviors. Small dogs would be easier to control in such circumstances and thus the size criterion was implemented. While this precaution is certainly understandable, it would be interesting to see the results of a follow up study that includes a greater variety of breeds (and larger sample size).
The Man in the Iron Mask is a name given to a prisoner arrested as Eustache Dauger in 1669. He was held in the custody of the same jailer for 34 years. His identity has been thoroughly discussed because no one ever saw his face, which was hidden by a mask of either black velvet cloth or iron. What facts are known about this prisoner are based mainly on correspondence between his jailer and his superiors in Paris.
The first surviving records of the masked prisoner are from July 1669, when Louis XIV’s minister sent a letter to the governor of the prison of Pignerol informing him that a prisoner named Eustache Dauger was due to arrive in the next month or so. Historians have noted that the name Eustache Dauger was written in a different handwriting than the rest of the text, suggesting that while a clerk wrote the letter under dictation, a third party, very likely the minister himself, added the name afterwards.
The governor was instructed to prepare a cell with multiple doors, one closing upon the other, to prevent anyone from the outside listening in. The governor himself was to see Dauger only once a day in order to provide food and whatever else he needed. Dauger was also to be told that if he spoke of anything other than his immediate needs he would be killed. According to many versions of this legend, the prisoner wore the mask at all times.
The prison at Pignerol was used for men who were considered an embarrassment to the state and usually held only a handful of prisoners at a time, some of which were important and wealthy and granted servants. One prisoner, Nicolas Fouquet’s valet was often ill and so permission was given for Dauger to serve Fouquet on the condition that he never met with anyone else. The fact that Dauger served as a valet is an important one for whilst Fouquet was never expected to be released, other prisoners were, and might have spread word of Dauger’s existence.
In time the governor was offered positions at other prisons and each time he moved Dauger went with him until he died in 1703 and was buried under the name of Marchioly. Though she may merely have been repeating rumours In 1711, King Louis’s sister-in-law stated in a letter that the prisoner had “two musketeers at his side to kill him if he removed his mask”.
In 1771, Voltaire claimed that the prisoner was the older, illegitimate brother of Louis XIV but other theories include that he was a Marshal of France; Richard Cromwell; or François, Duke of Beaufort; an illegitimate son of Charles II, amongst others.
“A large school of mobula rays fades into the waters of Baja, Mexico. “The rays were moving quite fast and it was hard enough keeping up with them from the surface, let alone diving down to take a closer look,” writes photographer Eduardo Lopez Negrete. Mobula rays are often referred to as flying rays due to their fondness for breaching.” — the 2014 National Geographic Traveller Photo Contest
Let’s also keep in mind that a mobula ray can reach 17 foot (5.2 meter) wingspan and weigh over a ton. Freaky or cool?