Prairie dogs and their 'contagious' Mexican wave explained
Study suggests the animals use the wave-like move to test alertness
Researchers believe they may have discovered why black-tailed prairie dogs repeatedly perform a Mexican wave like display when in a colony.
The ‘jump-yip’ action could be to test the responsiveness of others to prevent them from being eaten by predators, according to a new study.
Professor James Hare, of the University of Manibota in Winnipeg, said the 'contagious' jump-yip tests the responsiveness of the animals' neighbours and their vigilance, assessing how much they can rely on their awareness of potential dangers.
His study, Catch the Wave: Prairie Dogs Assess Neighbours’ Awareness Using Contagious Displays contradicts previous notions that the move was an ‘all-clear’ signal by the prairie dogs.
Prof Hare and his team observed the behaviour of the animals in the wild and filmed their displays, noting that the dogs foraged less when others were less responsive to their jump-yip display. But if their neighbours were more responsive, their vigilance appeared to decrease and they foraged more.
Prof Hare said: “This fits beautifully with work on primates, including humans, which suggests that contagious displays – like yawning – provide a window into the mind of others, suggesting of course, that species probing the minds of others are aware that they are distinct from those individuals. That is to say, they are consciously aware.”
The team concluded that the jump-yip is used to gather social information about others to judge the risk of reducing their own vigilance. If prairie dogs were convinced their neighbours were paying attention, they felt comfortable devoting more time to foraging for food.
Prof Hare’s research is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
- 1 Enrique Iglesias injured trying to catch a drone mid concert
- 2 Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, reveals new look on Annie Leibovitz shot Vanity Fair cover
- 3 Arsenal players boo chief-executive Ivan Gazidis after being told they would not get bonus for FA Cup triumph
- 4 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 5 UK weather: Temperatures set to soar making parts of Britain hotter than parts of the Mediterranean
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...