• Do animals cry?

    When rhesus monkeys are separated from their mothers, one of their most common responses is to cry. When they are lost or separated from their caretakers, dogs shed tears. Even rat pups emit something that sounds like crying when they are suddenly isolated. The seemingly obvious conclusion: animals cry. A recent report comes from a certain baby elephant whose tears made global headlines (as cute creatures tend to do): he was crying over being separated from his mother.

    If you look at the photographic evidence, he certainly seems to be—as do many other elephants before him, whether it's because they've been abandoned or simply hurt. And the people who have witnessed these tears—from elephants and other creatures of the wild alike—are adamant that the watery eyes they see in the beasts' eyes are signs of genuine, emotional manifestations.

    As documentary filmmaker James Honeyborne, who has for over twenty years filmed animals in the wilderness, puts it, "I am certain that the behavior I have witnessed so often stems from real emotion."

    Does that certainty, however, have a scientific foundation?

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  • Sherlock Holmes and the infamous brain attic


    Illustration: tisserande

    Maria Konnikova is the author of Mastermind: How to think Like Sherlock Holmes, out January 2013 from Viking, and a blogger at Scientific American. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

    One of the most widely held notions about Sherlock Holmes has to do with his supposed ignorance of Copernican theory. "What the deuce is [the solar system] to me?" he exclaims to Watson in A Study in Scarlet. "You say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work." And now that he knows that fact? "I shall do my best to forget it," he promises. (more…)