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哺乳动物并不像我们想象的那么独特

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2019年11月08日

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Discovery of Birds With a Complex Society Shows Mammals Aren't as Unique as We Thought

鸟类和复杂社会的发现表明:哺乳动物并不像我们想象的那么独特

It has long been thought that one of the reasons we humans developed large brains was to allow us to maintain complex social structures. But the social system of a small-headed guineafowl now suggests that large brains are not necessarily a requirement for complex multi-levelled societies.

长期以来,人们一直认为,我们人类发展大大脑的原因之一是让我们能够维持复杂的社会结构。但是现在,一只小脑袋秃鹫的社会系统表明,对于复杂的多层次社会来说,大脑袋并不一定是必需的。

Even amongst a crowd, vulturine guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum) can find their friends, and keep track of their social status with hundreds of other individuals - a feat previously only known in mammals.

即使是在鸟群中,秃鹫也能找到自己的朋友,并与数百个其他个体保持联系,这是一项以前只有哺乳动物才知道的壮举。

Named for their bare head and neck, these strikingly red-eyed and blue-breasted social birds are found in Northeast Africa. They are often observed hanging out in groups, which in itself isn't unusual for birds. What's different here is that these groups also have consistent associations with other groups, adding an entire social tier to their bird society.

这些赤裸的头和脖子、被命名为红眼睛和蓝胸的群居鸟分布在非洲东北部。它们经常成群结队地出没,这对鸟类来说并不罕见。不同的是,这些群体也与其他群体有着一致的联系,为他们的鸟类社会增加了一个完整的社会层次。

哺乳动物并不像我们想象的那么独特

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute and University of Konstanz in Germany tracked the social interactions of a population of over 440 adult vulturine guineafowl in Kenya for several years. They discovered that this large population was made up of 18 social groups, with 13 to 65 individuals in each.

德国马克斯普朗克研究所和康斯坦茨大学的研究人员,数年来跟踪了肯尼亚440多只成年秃鹫的社会互动,他们发现,这个庞大的群体由18个社会群体组成,每个群体有13到65个成员。

The groups consist of multiple males and females, including breeding pairs and non-breeders, and remain stable across the seasons. They intermingle with other groups during communal roosting at night and during daytime activities: For example, certain groups choose to roost with each other at night, even if they do not share the same territory or hang out together during the day.

这些群体由多个雄性和雌性组成,包括繁殖对和非繁殖者,并在整个季节保持稳定。它们在夜间和白天的公共栖息活动中与其他群体混合:例如,某些群体选择在夜间相互栖息,即使它们在白天不共享同一领土或一起闲逛。

After mingling, individual birds consistently split back into their original groups, meaning they understand who is part of their group and who isn't. The researchers even suspect the birds have something akin to smaller clusters of friends within these groups.

在混合之后,每一只鸟都会重新回到原来的群,这意味着它们知道谁是它们群的一部分,谁不是。研究人员甚至怀疑这些鸟有一些类似于这些群中较小的朋友群的东西。

"To our knowledge, this is the first time a social structure like this has been described for birds," said ethologist Danai Papageorgiou from the Max Planck Institute.

“据我们所知,这是首次对鸟类的社会结构进行这样的描述,”马克斯·普朗克研究所的动物行为学家达纳伊·帕佩佐罗说。

By following 58 of the birds with solar GPS devices, the researchers were able to analyse these group interactions and show that groups were associating with specific other groups by choice, rather than chance.

通过追踪58只带有太阳能GPS设备的鸟类,研究人员能够分析这些群体之间的相互作用,并表明这些群体是通过选择而非偶然地与特定的其他群体联系在一起的。

So, it seems vulturine guineafowl maintain complex, multi-levelled social circles despite possessing rather tiny brains.

因此,尽管秃鹫的大脑相当小,但它似乎维持着复杂的、多层次的社交圈。

"This discovery raises a lot of questions about the mechanisms underlying complex societies and has opened up exciting possibilities of exploring what is it about this bird that has made them evolve a social system that is in many ways more comparable to a primate than to other birds," says ethologist Damien Farine from the Max Planck Institute.

马克斯·普朗克研究所的动物动物学家达米恩·法林说:“这一发现提出了许多关于复杂社会的机制的问题,并为探索这种鸟类,到底是如何进化成一种在多方面优于其他鸟类,并能与灵长类动物相媲美的社会系统的问题,开辟了令人兴奋的可能性。”。

This research was published in Current Biology.

这项研究发表在《当代生物学》杂志上。


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