Jonathan Balcombe has published over 60 scientific papers and book chapters on animal behavior and animal protection.
From New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Balcombe comes this charming and affecting tale of young Jake, who on his first fishing trip with his grandfather, makes a crucial discovery when he meets Ava, an archerfish, caught on his line. This tender tale will evoke empathy in young readers. […]
Winner Of The National Outdoor Book Award | Natural History Literature
From an expert in animal consciousness, a book that will turn the fly on the wall into the elephant in the room.
For most of us, the only thing we know about flies is that they’re annoying, and our usual reaction is to try to kill them. In Super Fly, the myth-busting biologist Jonathan Balcombe shows the order Diptera in all of its diversity, illustrating the essential role that flies play in every ecosystem in the world as pollinators, waste-disposers, predators, and food source; and how flies continue to reshape our understanding of evolution. Along the way, he reintroduces us to familiar foes like the fruit fly and mosquito, and gives us the chance to meet their lesser-known cousins like the Petroleum Fly (the only animal in the world that breeds in crude oil) and the Chocolate Midge (the sole pollinator of the Cacao tree). No matter your outlook on our tiny buzzing neighbors, Super Fly will change the way you look at flies forever.
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UPDATE: the publisher has agreed to replace the erroneous passage with the following sentence: “Fish authority Jonathan Balcombe views the morality of fish-eating as a serious matter, and he abstains from eating animals, fish included.” Jonathan’s book “What a Fish Knows” is now cited in Nussbaum’s book and included in […]
A study recently published in a prestigious journal reports a surprise finding: that jumping spiders twitch during sleep in a way that resembles what cats, dogs and other mammals do during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The German researchers noticed eye movements happening at the same time as leg jerks, […]
The New York Times Book Review | Hosted by Pamela Paul | July 9, 2021
The Lives of Flies
Jonathan Balcombe talks about “Super Fly” and Marjorie Ingall discusses Holocaust literature for children
The subtitle of Jonathan Balcombe’s new book, “Super Fly: The Unexpected Lives of the World’s Most Successful Insects” leads to the first question on this week’s podcast. Why “successful”?
“Their diversity, for one,” Balcombe says. “There’s over 160,000 described species — and it’s important to add that qualifier, ‘described,’ because it’s estimated there may be about five times that many that are undescribed. Insects make up 80 percent of all animal species on the planet, so that says something right there about how incredibly successful they are, and flies are arguably the most species-rich subset of insects. It’s estimated there’s about 20 million flies on earth at any moment for every human who’s on the earth. And they occupy all seven continents.”
Marjorie Ingall visits the podcast this week to discuss her essay about why she finds it troubling that children’s literature focuses so relentlessly on the Holocaust.
To listen to the interview online at The New York Times ~ please click here.
In our fast-paced, human-centered lives, we are often oblivious to the remarkable capacities of so many animal species, like those of our underwater cousins: fish. Article: The Globe And Mail, February 09, 2019 Author: Jonathan Balcombe Website: The Globe And Mail Extract: I have spent years exploring the inner lives […]
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The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins:
About The Book:
Do fishes think? Do they really have three-second memories? And can they recognize the humans who peer back at them from above the surface of the water?
In What a Fish Knows, the myth-busting ethologist Jonathan Balcombe addresses these questions and more, taking us under the sea, through streams and estuaries, and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal the surprising capabilities of fishes.
Although there are more than thirty thousand species of fish―more than all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined―we rarely consider how individual fishes think, feel, and behave.
Fishes Have Feelings Too: The Inner Lives Of Our Underwater Cousins:
When you think about fish, it’s probably at dinnertime.
Author Jonathan Balcombe, on the other hand, spends a lot of time pondering the emotional lives of fish.
Balcombe, who serves as the director of animal sentience for the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that humans are closer to understanding fish than ever before.
What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins
Jonathan Balcombe Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2016)
More than 30,000 species of fish — about half of all vertebrates — roam global waters. And as ethologist Jonathan Balcombe notes in this engrossing study, breakthroughs are revealing sophisticated piscine behaviours.
Balcombe glides from perception and cognition to tool use, pausing at marvels such as ocular migration in flounders and the capacity of the frillfin goby (Bathygobius soporator) to memorize the topography of the intertidal zone.
While diving off the Micronesian archipelago of Pulau, evolutionary biologist Giacomo Bernardi witnessed something unusual and was lucky enough to capture it on film.
An orange-dotted tuskfish (Choerodon anchorago) uncovered a clam buried in the sand by blowing water at it, picked up the mollusk in its mouth and carried it to a large rock 30 yards away. Then, using several rapid head flicks and well-timed releases, the fish eventually cracked open the clam against the rock.
In the ensuing 20 minutes, the tuskfish ate three clams, using the same sequence of behaviors to smash them.
Interview On: The Colin McEnroe Show (WNPRadio)
Animal rights have come a long way over the last century, providing, of course, we’re not talking about fish. While other vertebrates have slowly been recognized as social, feeling, even sentient beings, fish remain good for three things: owning, catching and eating.
This morning, still recovering from jetlag, I went for a bike ride as the sun rose on the suburbs north of Washington, DC.
As I cycled through one of the lovely state parks that grace my neighborhood, I spooked a small herd of deer enjoying some browse at the border of a woodland and field.
At first I thought they were accompanied by a domestic dog, until I realized I had seen a piebald white-tailed deer.
Closing The Buffet
Review by Justin Hickey on Open Letters Monthly (June 01, 2016)
In 1949, Austrian ethologist Konrad Lorenz introduced his concept of the “baby schema,” which theorized that the large eyes, shorter snouts, and round wobbly heads of infant animals trigger caregiving urges in their parents.
That this phenomenon crosses species lines is irrefutable, considering how much time we spend cooing at puppies and kittens—true fur babies—and any adult creature possessing a hint of benign fluffiness.
If Lorenz were alive today, he’d nod in sage commiseration at our vast internet cache of videos and memes celebrating owls, raccoons, pigs, hedgehogs, rabbits, and ducklings (to name a few, in this reviewer’s order of Descending Cuddliness).
How about fishes?
First Published: May 15th, 2016 – The New York Times
In March, two marine biologists published a study of giant manta rays responding to their reflections in a large mirror installed in their aquarium in the Bahamas. The two captive rays circled in front of the mirror, blew bubbles and performed unusual body movements as if checking their reflection. They made no obvious attempt to interact socially with their reflections, suggesting that they did not mistake what they saw as other rays.
The scientists concluded that the mantas seemed to be recognizing their reflections as themselves.
Mirror self-recognition is a big deal. It indicates self-awareness, a mental attribute previously known only among creatures of noted intelligence like great apes, dolphins, elephants and magpies. We don’t usually think of fishes as smart, let alone self-aware.