Animals exhibit a number of behaviors that seem mysterious and, at times, unexplainable. From the flocking of starlings to the migrations of monarch butterflies, animals often act in such a way that confounds scientists and has yet to be explained. Though some of these behaviors have their roots in evolution and adaptation to the environment, others remain inconclusive and rather unexplained. In this article, we’ll take a close look at some of the more peculiar and unexplained behaviors displayed by animals and the strange phenomena that continue to baffle scientists to this day.
Shoaling and the Mysteries of Fish
When certain species of fish swim together in large groups, this behavior is known as shoaling. Shoaling usually occurs for things like shelter and protection from predators, but some aspects of it are still an enigma. For starters, how is it that fish manage to stay together even if there is no obvious leader?
Moreover, why are some kinds of fish more likely to shoal than others? There is also the phenomena of split shoaling, where groups of fish break off and form small groups, only to reunite with the original group later on. Questions surrounding this behavior remain unanswered. Why do fish do this? Are they more susceptible to predators when they’re on their own?
Theories of Magnetic Navigation
When it comes to migration patterns, birds and other animals rely on something known as magnetic navigation to navigate their way back home. This is a process whereby the animals take into account the Earth’s magnetic fields, using them as a guide to fly a certain way. While this ability is well documented, the exact mechanism behind this behavior remains mysterious.
Theories abound, of course, including the suggestion that particles in the birds’ eyes may be sensitive to magnetic fields, allowing them to detect them and use them as navigational cues. Another possible explanation lies in the fact that some species of birds ingest iron-rich particles from the Earth, which may act as tiny compasses and give them direction.
More Unexplained Behaviors
Examples of unexplained animal behavior don’t just end there. Bees are known to communicate via “dances,” and some species of fish will actually “tend” to certain other species, such as in the case of certain shark species that employ specific whale sharks for long journeys. How do animals manage to communicate like this? What is the meaning behind the dances?
The list goes on. Toads will switch off their receptor cells when they’re away from their natural habitats, while some frogs mate in the middle of a raging storm. How these amphibians are able to keep track of one another when they spread far apart and reunite at a later time is also something of a mystery.
The Echo Location of Bats
One form of behavior that is relatively well-researched is that of bat communication. Bats’ echo location allows them to detect obstacles, find food, and even communicate with each other. Bats’ echo location works via sound waves that are sent out from the bats’ mouths and bounced back from any nearby obstacles, which then allow them to build a mental map of their surroundings.
This ability is believed to have evolved during the bats’ long, dark nights, where visibility would be limited and the creatures would need to rely on something other than sight for navigation. However, there are aspects of this behavior that are still yet to be explained.
For instance, why do bats feel the need to communicate with each other through echo location if they’re already able to use it to navigate the world around them? It is thought that they may use it to establish social ties and even to let each other know where potential food sources are.
Animals are capable of a number of mysterious and, at times, unexplainable behaviors. From the shoaling of fish to the migrations of birds, and even the echo location of bats, certain phenomena exist that continue to baffle scientists.
While some of the underlying causes behind these behaviors have been discovered and remain well-understood, other details remain mysteries that require further research. Whatever the case, it’s fascinating to consider the complex inner workings of animal behavior and the amazing behaviors they display.