General, Research, Technology

Birds create a multi-level society despite a tiny brain

Study published on Monday inmagazine Current Biology, shows that vulture guinea fowl - birds, originally from East Africa, like humans, have a multi-level society. In the past, scientists have hypothesized that such social structures require serious mental abilities. But the brain of a vulture guinea fowl is the size of a pea, so it became obvious that the early assumptions of experts turned out to be erroneous. But according to what principles in this case, is a society built?

A group of vulture guinea fowls is sure - a small brain is not an obstacle to friendship

What is a tiered society?

To imagine what layeredsociety, it is best to recall the baboons. Baboons are a model for researchers who want to understand how human society has evolved. Some types of baboons live in groups within groups - this is the structure called a multi-level society. The same goes for people. Imagine a family that lives in a village: a family can be friends with other families, which, in turn, can have connections with neighboring villages, etc. In the scientific community, for quite some time, there has been a hypothesis that life in a complex society is one of the reasons we got such a big brain. At the same time, researchers found evidence of the presence of multi-level societies in some other mammals with a large brain, such as monkeys, elephants, giraffes and sperm whales.

How did birds with tiny brains build a complex society?

Watching the monkeys, the researchers drewattention to the behavior of vulture guinea fowls and were amazed - these hefty birds can fly, but rarely do. Instead, they roam in packs, often walking so close together that their bodies touch. They can pursue each other or fight to maintain their strict hierarchy. But sometimes they behave in a friendly manner, for example, share food. Their groups are unusually large for birds - sometimes 60 or more individuals are included in one group. But the most interesting news from the world of science and high technology, read on our channel in Yandex.Zen.

Vulture guinea fowls often invade each other's personal space

Researchers noted that similar behaviorGuinea fowl resembles the behavior of baboons and began an intensive study of the society of these birds. During the year, scientists observed 441 birds daily. In total, they counted 18 groups. Scientists also attached small solar-powered GPS devices to the backs of 58 birds, including one or more in each group. This allowed them to see exactly where each group went 24 hours a day for a whole year. They found that group membership was stable. Each group included several breeding pairs along with other birds. Groups often met and interacted with each other - in fact, some groups preferred to spend time together. Despite the fact that they did not live in the same home range during the day, they turned out to be looking for each other at night and sleeping together. Researchers note that a multi-level society in birds is fixed for the first time. However, it is truly surprising that guinea fowl not only have a small brain compared to mammals, they also have a rather small brain compared to other birds. By the way, in the world there are not so few strange birds. Here, for example, the singing of the loudest bird in the world. How do you like it?

It’s not necessary to be smart. The ability to recognize a friend is all you need for a comfortable life

Larisa Sudell, an anthropologist from Queens College inNew York City, which studies baboons, told The New York Times that it finds the results convincing. According to Sudell, guinea fowl demonstrated a multi-level society, which is atypical for birds with a small brain. At the same time, the anthropologist is convinced that this is not so surprising phenomenon. The fact is that even among primates, the most intelligent species are not always multilevel societies. Living in this kind of society can actually make tracking social order easier. For example, if the groups are stable and the bird or baboon can recognize only one or two individuals in the group, then there is no need for a brain that can recognize each individual animal. It turns out that a multilevel society does not require a big brain and a strong mind. A little unexpected, what do you think? You can discuss this amazing news with the participants of our Telegram chat.