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Do Kea Birds Have Cooperative Abilities?


Gray,  Russell D.
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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The ability to cooperate with each other has given humans one of the key advantages in the colonization of this planet. What about other species? Do they have cooperative abilities as well? RUSSELL GRAY and his fellow researchers have investigated this particular question observing keas, a New Zealand bird known for its playfulness and inquisitiveness. The researchers designed three experimental set-ups that tested the birds’ ability and willingness to cooperate with each other as well as the underlying cognition of the process. As Gray explains in this video, the experiments showed that that the keas’ behavior was not just governed by rote learning but that they could adjust their behavior depending on the situation, thus waiting for another bird to solve the situation. These findings suggest that a less anthropocentric look at the nature of relationships within groups is needed in order to understand the evolution of complex cognitive abilities such as collaboration.