Social learning in a non-social reptile (Geochelone carbonaria)

Wilkinson, Anna, Kuenstner, Karin, Mueller, Julia and Huber, Ludwig (2010) Social learning in a non-social reptile (Geochelone carbonaria). Biology Letters, 6 (5). pp. 614-616. ISSN 1744-9561

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The ability to learn from the actions of another is adaptive, as it is a shortcut for acquiring new information. However, the evolutionary origins of this trait are still unclear. There is evidence that group-living mammals, birds, fishes and insects can learn through observation, but this has never been investigated in reptiles. Here, we show that the non-social red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria) can learn from the actions of a con-specific in a detour task; non-observer animals (without a conspecific demonstrator) failed. This result provides the first evidence that a nonsocial species can use social cues to solve a task that it cannot solve through individual learning, challenging the idea that social learning is an adaptation for social living. This journal is © 2010 The Royal Society.

Keywords:adaptive radiation, bird, fish, insect, life history trait, mammal, social behavior, turtle, animal, article, learning, physiology, turtle, Animals, Turtles, Animalia, Aves, Geochelone carbonaria, Hexapoda, Mammalia, Pisces, Reptilia, Testudines
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D322 Animal Physiology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:9118
Deposited On:03 May 2013 10:12

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