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Siberian jays can communicate about behavior of birds of prey
Date:1/9/2008

, to avoid being discovered by the hawk.

These findings are astonishing and show for the first time that animals can assess and communicate about the behavior of their predators, and that not only mammals but also birds have developed advanced communication systems, says Michael Griesser.

An earlier study of Siberian jays showed that parents protect their young but not unrelated group members with their alarm calls and that this extra protection leads to much lower odds that related group members will be taken by a hawk during their first winter. Together with the new study, this shows for the first time that alarm calls actually do enhance the survival of other individuals. Until now this was merely an assumption, even though this is a basic function of alarm calls.

Since complex communication systems in the animal world were developed primarily in species that live in family groups, it appears that selection based on kinship is an important factor for the development of such systems in the animal world. To be able to save the life of a related animal ultimately serves to further the animals own genes. Perhaps this factor was also a key condition for our ancestors, who also lived in family groups, to be able to develop the capacity for language, says Michael Griesser.


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Contact: Michael Griesser
Michael.Griesser@ebc.uu.se
Uppsala University
Source:Eurekalert  

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