martes, 22 de febrero de 2011

Pele: The Tale Of The Volcano Goddess

Native Hawaiians thought that volcanic eruptions were caused by Pele, the beautiful Goddess of Volcanoes. Pele had frequent moments of anger, which brought her eruptions. She was honored but also feared (she could cause earthquakes by stamping her feet or volcanic eruptions by digging with her Pa'oa, her magic stick).

Pele had an argument with her older sister, Namakaokahai. The fight ended up forming the Hawaiian Islands.

Pele used her magic stick on Kauai, but she was attacked by her older sister. Pele recovered and fled to Oahu, where she dug several "fire pits," including the crater we now called Diamond Head, in Honolulu.

After that, Pele left her mark on the island of Molokai before travelling to Maui and creating the Haleakala Volcano. Namakaokahai, Pele's older sister, realized she was still alive and she went to Maui to find her. After a terrific fight, Namakaokahai believed that she had killed her younger sister. But Pele was still alive and she was busy working at the Mauna Loa Volcano, on the big island of Hawaii.

Finally, Namakaokahai gave up the struggle. Pele dug her final eternal fire pit, Halemaumau Crater, at the summit of Kilauea Volcano.

She is said to live there to this day...

Get to know more about volcanoes and how to prevent disasters at:

Extra activities on volcanoes: worksheets

Answer these questions:

1. What was the most destructive volcanic eruption we know? _____________________________________________

How many lives did it take?__________________________

2. Approximate how many volcanoes are active in the world at this time? ____________________________

Name five of those you remember (or look for them)

3. What are some positive things we may get from volcanoes?

Still want more?: Click this Reading / Comprehension

domingo, 13 de febrero de 2011


Gorillas communicate in several ways. They often mix sounds with actions.
When gorillas beat their chest with their hands, it is a warning signal to others to show they are "in charge".

Researchers have identified 25 different sounds made by gorillas and their meaning but there are many more that we don’t understand yet. They make chirps, grunts, roars, growls, and even hooting like an owl. They can be funny too, laughing and sticking their tongue out.

Gorillas use their communication to find food, to offer help, to express distress, for developing social relationships...

Certain members can develop forms of slang as we do in our social groups. This means that their communications are often learned and not just product of the use of the instinct.

Gorillas can also been taught how to communicate by humans. One successful story is that of KoKo: She was taught how to use sign language.

They hear and use noises that humans can’t even hear and that is how they are usually alerted to dangers. They also rely on their sense of smell.

Young gorillas have communications which are similar to those of human babies including whining and crying. Their mothers can find out what they need easily.

There are 9 steps to the gorilla communication ritual: First they will offer hooting sounds that get faster, feed in a methodical way, jump up and down, throw food, beat their chest with both hands, kick with their legs, run sideways, tear at vegetation out there, and end with their palms hitting the ground and more hooting sounds.

Researchers continue decoding their language, it isn’t an easy task. It is like trying to take a completely foreign language and learning it on your own. As many of the different sounds seem to have several meanings, the task is even more difficult...

martes, 8 de febrero de 2011

Dolphins and communication

Dolphins are considered to be the most intelligent mammals and researchers believe much of the dolphin's brain is used for communication or "echolocation".

While we still don't know if dolphins have a formal language, they do communicate with a "personal" whistle to identify themselves.

Unlike humans, dolphins do not have vocal cords, but they do use a complicated system of whistles, squeaks, moans, trills and clicks produced by their blow hole muscle.

Using echolocation, or sonar, dolphins send out frequencies by clicking. The returning sound waves are picked up by the dolphin's forehead and lower jaw and interpreted as to distance, size and shape of object.

This sound system is particularly useful at night as it allows the dolphin to navigate even if visibility is poor.

Dolphins have produced sound frequencies from 0.25 to 200 kHz, using the higher frequencies for echolocation and the lower frequencies for communication and orientation.

Do you want to learn more? Click on one of these:

The Dolphin Communication Project

What are dolphins?

Dolphin facts

Dolphin World!

miércoles, 2 de febrero de 2011

Non-verbal communication

Animals may not be able to speak but they have other ways of communicating... Whale song, wolf howls, frog croaks, bird chips -- even the waggle dance of the honeybee or the vigorous waving of a dog's tail -- are among the panoply of ways animals transmit information to each other and to other members of the animal kingdom.

They use nonverbal forms of communication, such as calls; non-vocal auditory outbursts, like the slap of a dolphin's tail on the water; bioluminescence; scent marking; chemical or tactile cues; visual signals and postural gestures.

Fireflies and peacocks are classic examples of brilliant bioluminescence and impressive visual displays, respectively. Ants use chemical cues (in a process called chemoreception) to help guide their foraging adventures, as well as for other activities like telling friend from foe or connecting with new mates.

When it comes to acoustic communication, not every member of a species is just alike. Animals in different regions have often been overhead sounding off in different dialects. For example, one study found that blue whales produce different patterns of pulses, tones and pitches depending on where they're from. Some bird species are the same way. And what about those birds that live on the border between territories of differing songsters? They often become bilingual, so to speak, and able to communicate in the singing parlance favored by each of their groups of neighbours!

Communication between species can play important roles as well. One study suggested that the reason Madagascan spiny-tailed iguanas have well-developed ears -- despite the fact that they don't communicate vocally -- is so they can hear the warning calls of the Madagascan paradise flycatcher. The two species have nothing in common except for the fact that they share a general habitat and raptors like to snack on them. So when an iguana hears a bird raise the alarm among other birds, it likely knows to be on alert for incoming predators, too!

To learn more on animal behaviour click here

To learn more on human non-verbal communication click here