Nature is an awesome journal, and I am already mourning the impending end of my uber-cheap subscription.
Most of it goes WAY over my head. This though, from Vol 500, No 7462, made me laugh. Emphasis and hyperlinks are added by me…
Young female birds get the worm
Birds’ ability to learn from watching their peers varies with age, sex and social rank. In a study led by Lucy Aplin at the University of Oxford, UK, wild-caught blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus: famous for learning to pierce foil caps on milk bottles delivered to British homes to get the cream) were placed in an aviary with a covered tray containing waxworms, the blue tit’s favourite snack. Eight experimental groups totalling 56 birds could observe ‘demonstrator’ birds that had been trained to get worms by either flipping up or piercing the covers. About half of these birds learned to get the worms, but when 32 other birds were given the tray in the absence of demonstrators, none of them learned the skill. Juvenile females were almost twice as likely to learn the task as other blue tits, and dominant males less likely.
Animal Behaviour, 85, 1225-1232 (2013)
Dominant males acting like, well, um, dicks? It’s them macaques all over again. And again. And again. Such a relief that homo sapiens sapiens is immune to all of that, eh?