Birds with bigger `badges` rule the roost
Washington: A new study has discovered that a New Zealand bird, called Pukeko, which shows off its status on its head, could give valuable information about social behaviours of all creatures, including human beings.
Research led by McMaster`s Cody Dey and Jim Quinn shows that the size of the "badge", a fleshy red wedge extending from the beak and over the forehead of the Pukeko, is an accurate indicator of the bird`s status and that it apparently grows and shrinks in keeping with the bird`s standing in its social group.
A lot of animals signal dominance or fighting ability to one another and some of them use these types of conventions, Dey said.
The research opens a window into the sophisticated social order of the birds, which has implications for other species, including humans, explains Dey, a PhD candidate who worked with Quinn, a biology professor, and James Dale of Massey University in Auckland, NZ.
Dey believes that people have this perception that humans have super-complex social lives and animals don`t, and that`s not true as the social lives of many species of animals are very rich and complex.
Dey said that we have these types of signals of dominance and even though we don`t have red shields on our heads, but things like bicep size are known to be a signal of dominance in humans.
To test the relationship between badge size and dominance, Dey and his colleagues traveled to New Zealand to observe these rail birds, similar to North American coots, in their habitat.
They measured the distinctive badges on the birds` heads and found wide variations among members of the same group, even though the birds were all about the same size.
The red badges stand out very distinctly against the birds` black and indigo feathers and serve no physical purpose, leading the researchers to suspect that their function must be social.
Birds with larger badges played more dominant roles in the social hierarchies of their groups, and were challenged less frequently by birds of lower status.
The researchers took high-ranking birds and painted over the edges of their badges with black paint to make the badges appear smaller.
The birds with the altered badges experienced much more aggression from other members of their groups, and soon their badges shrank to reflect their newly diminished status.
The study is published in the prestigious biology journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- BJP MP Yogi Adityanath compares Akhilesh Yadav with 'Aurangzeb' and 'Kans'
- Acrimonious remarks of political leaders during UP elections
- UP polls: When fans played spoilsport for SP star campaigner Dimple Yadav
- Have political parties diverted from development agenda in UP elections?
- Pakistan cancels licenses of weapons issued to Hafiz Saeed and his aides
- Reliance Jio's tariff plan from April 1; voice calls, roaming to be free: Mukesh Ambani
- BMC exit poll: BJP predicted to score big in neck-and-neck battle with Shiv Sena
- How Kashmiris use children for 'meri jaan Pakistan' type 'freedom struggle' - WATCH
- Reliance Jio Prime Membership at Rs 99: All you need to know about the plan
- 'Intolerance brigade' attacks Zee News' #FatehKaFatwa host Tarek Fateh - WATCH