Fruit Flies Play Video Game, Show Self-Awareness

Some fruit flies, when put in front of a video game, controlled the game, meaning that they had awareness of their surroundings and where they stood in them. Continue reading →

A capability once thought reserved for humans and some top-level animals - awareness of the self - also exists in fruit flies, new research finds.

The study reveals that studies of attention, both in humans and in animals, need to focus on how different areas of the brain communicate with each other, not just one area at a time.

It's been shown that animals like elephants, dolphins and great apes are aware of themselves. But fruit flies, often studied because of their genetic similarities to humans, were not thought to have enough brain power to have self-awareness.

"It's really interesting that humans and flies share the ability to focus and have attention," said Bruno van Swinderen, an associate professor at the University of Queensland, in a press release.

"The difference is that we have around 100 billion neurons, and they only have 100,000 to do pretty much the same - focus on one thing at a time and select the best course of action."

In the study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the researchers leashed fruit flies on an air-supported ball in front of a rudimentary video game and recorded multiple parts of their brain at the same time.

Some flies were given the chance to control the game themselves and some had a video of the game played to them.

"We found that when the fly is in control, there is an increase in communication between brain regions, compared to when they are just responding to the very same visual stimuli replayed to them," van Swinderen said in the release.

Some fruit flies were superstar players, and they were the ones that strongly suggested self-awareness, the study found.

"There were actually some star performers that immediately understood whether they were in control or not, and some never seemed to know the difference," van Swinderen said. "Across our research, there is always individuality between all of the animals. They all behave differently."

No word on how the researchers got those tiny leashes on the flies' necks...

Via Tech Times

We pet our dogs and cats all the time; we even kiss them. (If you're not an animal lover, that's not going to make any sense, we understand...) There are some animals that you might not imagine would be kissable, but they totally are. Following is our list. We're in deeply subjective territory here, we realize: You'll have your own ideas on the subject and you might even think, "I'm never kissing THAT!" Fair enough. Perhaps we can change your minds, though. First up is an easy one, no? We swim with dolphins, we pet them. Don't you want to smooch one too? Sure you do.

VIDEO: Dolphins Give Each Other Unique Names

OK, yes, we're sucker punching you with this one. Baby ducks deserve a kiss on the head just for being baby ducks. They need no other reason to warrant your affection. This is Scamper, and she approved this message.

Funky Ducks Thrive at NYC's Central Park: Photos

Extra points if you knew there'd be a wombat in here somewhere. And, not just any wombat. This is Patrick, the world's oldest (and fattest) wombat. He's a big-time celebrity at the Ballarat Wildlife Park in Victoria, Australia. He probably gets kisses all the time.

World's Oldest, Fattest Wombat Turns 29 Years Young

Let's not forget seals, either. Uber cute.

Seal Pup Found in Forest

On St. Patrick's day, this panda could wear a "Kiss me, I'm Irish" shirt, and you'd want to grant the request and ignore the big fat lie about its heritage. Although, outside of our theoretical exercise here, you'd probably risk a good deal of bodily harm actually trying it. So don't.

Giant Pandas Love Sugar

A baby goat! Just waiting to be adored, and kissed on the head. (Some captions just write themselves.)

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Sea otters excel at being cute, and it often looks like they know it. (Somehow they manage that without being smug about it!) Did you know they even have their own awareness week, happening right now? (Click the link below to learn more about them, and to bask in more of their adorableness.)

Sea Otter Awareness Week: Photos

This colorful Madagascar day gecko looks happy enough for a peck on its head. It's not even trying to sell you car insurance. For that alone, it should be kissed.

Call this entry "In defense of bugs." While "kissable" insects might be a bridge too far for most people, it's not as though none of them can ever look cute. This dragonfly, for example, has the well-meaning, wide eyes of an optimist, to go along with a sharp blue hue. Let's pretend we don't notice it's eating another bug; kissability and the brutality of nature are entirely different discussions.

This little critter from the Prague zoo goes by the classification name

Macroscelides proboscideus

, but for we civilians it just goes by short-eared elephant shrew. It only weighs about an ounce and is 4 inches long on a good day. Too cute not to love.

The short-eared elephant shrew has a rival in the kissable little runt competition with this pygmy possum, a lilliputian marsupial that fights in the same general weight class as the shrew. If it will hang out in your hand, maybe it wouldn't mind a nuzzle.

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Looks like Mom has already taken our theme to heart with this baby miniature donkey.

This baby turtle is just starting out in life. It will never be more kissable than it is right now.

You could say that a manatee has a face only its mother could love, and maybe you'd be right. They're at least homely-cute, wouldn't you agree?

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Finally, koalas. Because why not? They rate as kissable just because you could easily mistake one for a stuffed animal, and those get kissed way more than koalas.