1 Tahrcountry Musings: A wasp that recognises facial features

Friday, December 02, 2011

A wasp that recognises facial features

Now this is truly amazing. Researchers have demonstrated that the paper wasp, Polistes fuscatus, is able to differentiate among individuals based on varying facial markings. The wasp can differentiate among normal wasp face images more rapidly and accurately than nonface images or manipulated faces. A close relative lacking facial recognition, Polistes metricus, do not have the ability of face learning. In Polistes fuscatus it is an independent evolution of specialization.

The researchers  sign off saying “Convergence toward face specialization in distant taxa as well as divergence among closely related taxa with different recognition behavior suggests that specialized cognition is surprisingly labile and may be adaptively shaped by species-specific selective pressures such as face recognition.”

Journal reference 
Science 2 December 2011: 
Vol. 334 no. 6060 pp. 1272-1275 

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