Animal communication

Illustrated by Ryan Brinkerhoff
Date:20 August 2012 Author: Alex Hutchinson Tags:, , , ,

Using a realistic “robosquirrel” – a taxidermic ground squirrel with a mechatronic tail – a team of engineers from the University of California, Davis, and biologists from San Diego State University are studying the evolutionary arms race between squirrels and rattlesnakes. When the robosquirrel waves and heats its tail, mimicking the animal’s behaviour, snakes in the wild back off. This confirms that adult squirrels use interspecies infrared communication, and that rattlesnakes rely on IR-sensitive pit organs more than their eyes.

Click here to see how the robosquirrel wards off a rattlesnake, proving the theory that tail wagging discourages an attack.