African gray parrots were firstkind of birds that understand when another animal needs help and actually provide it. This puts Jaco on a par with bonobos and orangutans. But chimpanzees and gorillas could not pass this test. Like the crows of New Caledonia, whose cognitive abilities are very high. A study published in the journal Current Biology also states that Jaco helps relatives without requiring anything in return. According to scientists, such behavior arose only a few times during evolution.
The researchers conducted an experiment, the essence of whichconsisted in the fact that two birds, which were placed in transparent boxes with a hole, were given the opportunity to exchange tokens for which they could get food. In addition to Jacquot, mountain macaws took part in the experiment. In total, 16 birds were involved in the study, 8 individuals of each species, which were divided into pairs. Each bird was given many tokens - small metal washers - and taught to pass them to a neighbor through an opening in the partition. In the front of the transparent box were holes through which birds could interact with objects and with researchers. Also, birds could exchange among themselves through the third hole in the partition separating them.
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A month after the birds were taughtto transfer food to each other through a hole in the partition, scientists closed one of the holes, and tokens were given to only one bird. The experimental conditions were as follows:
The concept of exchange was understood by both jaco and mountainara, but only gray parrots consciously passed tokens to a relative, so that he would not remain hungry. The same behavior was noticed when the roles of birds changed places. The more tokens previously given by a bird, the more it received in return. As a result of the experiment, seven out of eight Zhakos provided to their partner tokens. And mainly to the relative with whom they had the most strong ties.
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Researchers also noted that gray parrotsdid not envy partners who had more food. Scientists connect the reasons for such behavior of gray parrots with monogamy, as well as with the need for close communication, due to which birds survive in the wild. Recall that in different forms altruism is often found in the animal kingdom, but the reasons for this behavior are not fully understood. One of the most famous is the theory proposed by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, according to which there may exist a gene responsible for altruistic behavior. Be that as it may, the ability of gray parrots to help each other for free is unique among birds.