Round Two - Animals

So you think you're the king of the jungle...
23 June 2020

Interview with 

Ljiljana Fruk, Matt Bothwell, Beth Singler and Olivia Remes, University of Cambridge


Different personality traits are linked to different lifespans in male and female chimpanzees.


Adam Murphy and Phil Sansom put some confounding animal questions to our panel; chemist Ljiljana Fruk, astronomer Matt Bothwell, AI researcher Beth Singler, and mental health expert Olivia Remes.

Phil - Humans have three color receptors in our eyes. One for blue, one for red, one for green. The mantis shrimp is thought to have the most color receptors though, of any animal. How many different color receptors does it have? Is it (A) 12 or (B) 6? What do you think?

Ljiljana - Okay. Matt, any ideas? I just know that there are many.

Matt - Yeah, I remember hearing that it was more, I think it's 12. I remember it being like significantly more.

Phil - Should we go with 12?

Ljiljana - Yes let's go with 12.

Phil - Yes, very well done - 12 is the answer. However, they're not actually as good as us at distinguishing between closely related colors because of a quirk in how those receptors work, they can differentiate orange and yellow, not the shades between. Well done - two points.

Adam - Right now, Olivia and Beth, your question - due to some cross wiring in the brain of the circadian rhythm and the trigeminal nerve, a rooster is only able to crow in the morning, true or false.

Olivia - Uh, I mean, I've only heard roosters crow in the morning. So just based off of experience, I'm tempted to say true. But what do you think, Beth?

Beth - I think, I feel like we have got some roosters nearby, I think I've had them at different times, but it sounds more scientifically plausible that they can do it at any time. I don't know.

Adam - So I need to press you for an answer.

Olivia - Yeah. We'll go with truth.

Adam - I'm afraid not. That is me Googling random science words and putting them on a page to see what would happen. So despite what we've led to believe by storybooks, roosters will crow pretty much whenever they feel like it. When they've been fed, when they're warning other roosters or even to celebrate success with a lady chicken, they will crow just because they feel like it. I am afraid, no points there.

Phil - Right over to Team One, back to Ljiljana and Matt. Now here's a couple of questions that you won't find in most pub quizzes. This is from a recent paper published by Kamiloglu et al the University of Amsterdam showing that humans can actually accurately tell what a chimpanzee is doing from listening to the sounds they make. So I ask you, what is this chimp doing here? All right. You've got multiple choice. Was it discovering something scary, discovering a large source of food, being refused access to food, or being attacked by another chimp?

Ljiljana - Oh, wow. Can we hear the sound once again? No. Yeah, that's it. Yeah.

Adam - Can we? Absolutely. Of course you can. So what's that chimp up to?

Matt - I've never felt more like I was guessing than right now. I feel like there's an element of kind of wistful frustration in there somewhere. So I reckon maybe C, what do you think?

Phil - Refused access to food?

Ljiljana - Yeah. Yeah. I kind of also think that there is a frustration in it.

Matt - Yeah.

Phil - Unfortunately it was (A) discovering a large food source, so nice try.

Adam - And now over to Olivia and Beth, I have another chimp here for you. What is this chimp up to? So is that chimp being separated from its mother, eating high value food, threatening an aggressive chimp, or being tickled?

Olivia - I feel like it's something more aggressive and something a little bit more, I don't know. He sounds a little bit angry.

Beth - Yeah. And it's quite low as well. Not like a baby sound. So yeah. I'd probably go with the aggression one, there was an aggression one.

Adam - Okay. So threatening an aggressive chimp?

Olivia - Yeah. I would say so.

Adam - Afraid that that particular chimp is being tickled. And I knew that because I don't know about anyone else, but I happen to make quite a similar noise when I'm being tickled. So I'm afraid, no points all around on those set of questions. On to the next ones, Phil.

Phil - Team one, Ljiljana and Matt, tell me which of these four is the only insect that lives year round in Antarctica. Is it (A) the Antarctic ant, (B) the Antarctic midge, (C) the Antarctic beetle, or (D) the Antarctic lice. What do you think?

Matt - So it was ant, midge, beetle, or louse. I would imagine that it would be midge because then they could fly and not have to walk around on the cold ground. I don't know if that's really stupid or not. What do you, yeah, just on that basis.

Ljiljana - Yeah. Yeah. I agree. I agree. I think your explanation also makes sense.

Phil - All right, as you can judge by that correct answer buzzer it is indeed the Antarctic midge. Let's go to Team Two.

Adam - Team two. We have four animal names here for you and they are all in some way or another, except for one, a lie. So which of these animal names isn't a lie. Is it the electric eel, the mantis shrimp, the flying fox, or the chicken turtle. Those are all real animals, but all of them have lies in their name bar one.

Olivia - The last one sounds to me like a lie. Just the name of it. It just made me laugh. Chicken turtle.

Beth - Yeah. It's kind of the most amusing one.

Adam - Okay. So chicken turtle is the answer. And - you are right. I pressed the wrong button there. Hang on. Let me do that right. Absolutely. Yes. Thank you, Phil, for pulling me up on that. It is the chicken turtle, but maybe not for the reason you think. It's called that because apparently it tastes like chicken. Electric eel is actually a kind of knifefish, a flying fox is a bat it's not a fox, and a mantis shrimp, while related to shrimp, is neither a shrimp nor a mantis. 


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