1 Tahrcountry Musings: Mongooses Can Pass on Traditions

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Mongooses Can Pass on Traditions

This is incredible. Latest research shows that Mongooses can pass on traditions from one generation to the next. Till now we thought it is a trait that is the prerogative of animals with big brain.The research was headed by Dr Corsin Müller, now at the University of Vienna.
When banded mongoose pups emerge from the den, most of them form exclusive one-to-one associations with a particular adult, usually an older brother, cousin, or uncle. This new associate becomes their primary caretaker and "escort." says the scientists.
Banded mongooses feed on a wide range of prey species including bird eggs and rhinoceros beetles. They crack open the food item either by holding them in place with their front paws and biting them open or hurling them against a hard surface such as a stone or tree trunk.
For his experiment Müller used a modified "Kinder Egg" plastic container containing a mix of rice and fish that could be opened using either the biting or the smashing method. The mongooses differed markedly in their preference for one or the other technique. The acquired traits persisted over time.
Now the question was, were the traits passed on from adults to pups?The researchers report the answer is yes. In the experiments involving plastic canisters juvenile mongooses, when tested with the novel food item for the first time, tended to copy what they had observed their escort do.
Details appear in the latest issue of Current Biology

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