What are you looking at, cockatoo? Does social learning depend on social relationships?

As a lecturer, I know my students but I do find it hard to keep track of which students are doing which modules and who graduated one vs two years ago. Complex group living requires animals to know and keep track of various relations between themselves and others. These could be seen in the form […]

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Batman is cleverer than Hans: Concept learning in dogs

We often think about conceptual thought as being uniquely human, however, there is growing evidence to suggest that animals can learn concepts as well. The use of concepts requires understanding the relationship between stimuli. So, if I presented these three faces to you and asked you who was familiar, my guess if that you’d choose […]

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Eeny, meeny, miny, mice: counting and numeric meta skills in animals

All aspects of animal behaviour are the result of a choice. By choosing to do one thing an animal is therefore not doing something else. These decisions need to be made in a manner that maximizes the likelihood of survival. Because of this emphasis on survival, decisions are generally studied from an ecological perspective; however, […]

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The Culture of Crows: Leveraging leaves or learning locations?

Cultural traditions are common in humans and are thought to be rooted in our evolutionary history; they are deeply ingrained in our society and can, under certain conditions, result in non-adaptive behavior. Given this, might one also expect to observe evidence of cultural traditions in non-human animals? But how do we look for “culture” in animals? […]

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9-1-1 in the wild: Dolphins’ distress calls and their rescuers response

There are many stories of dolphins saving people from various perilous situations including drowning and even shark attack. Until now, these events have been generally anecdotal and have been difficult to study systematically. However, the conspecific helping behaviour which may underlie these events is very interesting and has been scientifically documented on a few occassions. So-called […]

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What’s your point? Sea lions can use human gestural cues.

If you see someone point to something over your head you generally look upwards. This is because humans understand that this type of referential communication is used to draw our attention to an object or place that the informer is attending to (we are extremely susceptible to this – the direction of human attention can even […]

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