Intelligent Mammalian Music

Engaging experiments with music and rats.

Francis Rauscher conducted a musical experiment at the University of California in Irvine on three groups of rats.  In that experiment, he had one group listen to Mozart, one listen to nothing at all, and one listen to Philip Glass,

The above is regarded by historians as the mos...

The above is regarded by historians as the most accurate surviving likeness of Mozart, painted when the composer was 26 years old. It is a section of an unfinished 1782 portrait by Joseph Lange.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

a very repetitive music. The rats constantly listened to the music from the time they were born to the time they reached maturity.  When they were undeniably mature, he had them run a maze to see how smart they were.  Rats which listened to Mozart ran a maze in ½ of the time it took for the rats which did not listen to anything, and the poor rats which listened to the repetitive music could not find their way out. Since mammalian brains are alike, this shows that repetitive music takes away your intelligence.   So if you listen to repetitive music, one day you could get lost in a maze and starve.

Rude smell

Olfactory Bulbs

Olfactory Lobes (Photo credit: pinkcigarette)

English: "Golden girl" – Horses (unk...

English: “Golden girl” – Horses (unknown breed, Isabelle or Palomino coloured): Mare with a foal, somewhere in Surrey, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Concerning horses sense of smell.

Horses have an acute sense of smell.  Along with hearing this is one of the main ways that horses take in information about their surroundings.  There are a number of different and important ways a horse uses its sense of smell.  Since horses are equipped with a strong olfactory lobe, (the lobe that controls hearing in the brain) their sense of smell (though no one is sure) is said to be hundreds of times better than a human’s sense of smell.  Because of their strong sense of smell, horses can sense predators from miles away.  The sense of smell also plays a big role in the horse’s complicated social structure.  When horses greet each other they touch noses to take in each others scent, and horses can also learn to recognize each other by scent alone.  In a herd of horses, mares and foals learn to find each other by smell even in a large group.  When you are first introduced to a horse, the most polite thing to do is let the horse sniff the back of your hand.  This tells the horse that you are not a predator and will make the horse more agreeable to being handled.  So the next time you are with a horse, put out your hand and don’t be rude!

Communicative Ears

How Horses Communicate Using Their Ears.

White horse in field

White horse in field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When horses pin their ears flat against their heads, it probably means the horse is angry or irritated.  Obviously, when working with or riding a horse this is not something  you want your horse to do as it usually means you are trying to make the horse do something it does not want to do. This is a warning that the horse is about to lash out (kick, buck, bite etc.)  If the ears are merely tilted back it does not mean the horse is angry, but is actually a good thing if you are riding the horse. Because it means that the horse is listening to you and waiting for a command.  On the other hand, if a horse’s ears are flat on the forehead, it means the horse is scared.  It may not be wise to approach a horse whose ears are like this.   And finally, when the horse’s ears are forward most people think the horse is acting friendly/contented.  But, this might not be the case.  Sometimes a horse will put its ears forward if they sense danger.  If your horse suddenly puts its ears up while riding (the horse might also slacken its pace) you should be on guard as the horse might spook at any time if whatever it heard or smelled moves.  So the next time you see or ride a horse, watch their communicative ears and see if you can tell what they are feeling.

Fortunate Eyesight

Eye of a Horse (Andalusian)

Horse’s eyes are very complex.  Although they have a wider field of vision than humans do, horses cannot see very much detail and have a hard time seeing depth and sensing how far an object is from their bodies.  Consequently horses also have many blind spots in which they cannot see at all.  Directly behind and in front of a horse are the biggest blind spots. Which is why you should never walk up behind a horse unless you want to get kicked and why a horse might lift it’s head when you try to pet it’s muzzle.  The horse does not want to get away from you, on the contrary it just wants to see you better!  Most blind spots are determined by the shape of the Horse’s head.  Horses with broad heads decrease the blind spot directly in front while a horse with a thinner head decreases the blind spots on either side.  A horse’s eyes are very sensitive to movement which is why they get spooked so easily.  This is because in the wild, horses have to be on guard all the time for mountain lions, bears, and wolves.  Concerning horses and guarding, a horse’s night vision is superb.  This is so that the horse can see any predators trying to sneak up on them at all times.  Considering color, scientists have not proven whether horses see color or not, but most believe that horses see a few shades of green and/or blue.  Horses may have great night vision and movement detection, but all the blind spots and lack of depth perception really makes me feel fortunate to have human eyesight.