About Me

I am a Ph.D. wildlife conservation biologist and zoo professional who has worked with hundreds of species of animals over the last three decades. I have come to appreciate that whatever humans might think about their own uniqueness in love, life, and the pursuit of happiness, the animal kingdom has seen it all and more. A few years ago, some friends of mine decided to ask me how some of their personal issues would be viewed by a biologist with a literal bird’s-eye view of an endless variety of animal behavioral and social biology. They liked what they heard. This was followed by a few lectures on the subject and so now, I am opening up the floor to you.

Image courtesy of the Wildlife Conservation Society

Manor Beast

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I always like Bad Boys

Dear Dr. Dan,  

Why am I always attracted to “bad” boys? It seems that the more aggressive, rude and inconsiderate they are, the more I become interested.  

Dear Always,  

Here we have to consider our primate roots and the ways in which social groups benefit from a broad range of personality types, including the rude and crude. In baboon society, it is exceptionally reassuring to know that many of the males will turn into a blazing ball of fanged fury when the group is threatened by predators.  And it really works – even leopards are hesitant to take on these guys. So perhaps several million years worth of very impressed females would tell you that you are not all wrong.  But unless you are the type of person who truly thinks grizzly bears make good pets, you should reconsider the roots of your attraction and take a look at some of the more sensitive male personality types that exist because they impress females, too.

-Dr. Dan

Can Men & Women be Friends?

Dear Dr. Dan,  

Can men and women be friends?  

Dear Friend,  

All social animals benefit from a range of inter-individual relationships in a social group.  While “friendship” is not easy to assess biologically, “partnerships” are observed frequently in tag team hunting strategies among wolves and lions, and very clearly among pair-bonded males and females of virtually all the animal species that form pair bonds.  Among humans, male-female friendships are common among relatives, children, between generations, and more recently, among work colleagues. Also, some of the best advice out there is to marry someone who can be a friend as well as a mate.  Of course, the spotlight is usually on those young male-female friendships that get complicated by hidden agendas, generally to do with the unwelcome libido of one or the other. So yes, men and women can be friends if friendship is the clear objective, but no, for those men and women who interpret all positive interactions with the opposite sex as courtship.

-Dr. Dan

[Image from Starkinsder.com]

The Chase

I recently saw a post that read as follows:  

Dating Tip No. 1 : Never Chase a Man   It is my firm belief that underneath every civilized man lies an eager nine year-old boy yearning to be Indiana Jones. So, imagine my frustration when girls throw themselves at guys with the ferocity of ten starving hyenas! Imagine!  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: never chase a man.

Dear Never,  

By definition, ”chase” usually means that the closer you get, the farther away the “chased” goes.  Clearly, this is a losing strategy unless you happen to be a social insect in which a race of all eligible males to catch the flying princess is the whole point.  Most all of the vertebrate species from bower birds to chameleons to Johnny Depp know that attraction works better than hot pursuit.  Altogether, I would agree and expand this to never chase a man, woman, jackrabbit, or any other member of the living world.   -Dr. Dan

[image from chumpysclipart.com]

Ask Dr. Dan!

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT YOUR “INNER ANIMAL” OR THAT OF SOMEONE YOU KNOW?  WRITE TO DR. DAN!  If you often wonder what motivates your work associates, friends, neighbors, significant other, or even yourself, find out what the animals might think and discover what an interesting biosphere we live in at the same time.

email askmanorbeast@gmail.com or use the contact box below. Identity will be kept confidential.