Journal: Current Biology
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Quick-learning lemurs get all the likes
© David Sainsbury/Getty
Lemurs that are quick to learn new tricks enjoy an elevated social status.
Knowledgeable people are often admired by their peers, but the effect of learning ability on popularity among animals has not been fully explored.
A team that included University College Cork researchers challenged lemurs to open a box containing just a single grape (so that they could not share the spoils). They observed how social networks in the lemur pack changed after the experiment, and found that lemurs who were more frequently seen solving the puzzle received more attention, such as grooming, afterwards. Additionally, the lemurs who already enjoyed lots of social interaction before the experiment were more likely to watch and learn the solution from others, suggesting a positive feedback loop for popular individuals.
These fast learners may be seen as more successful hunters, leaders and mates, so become appealing friends to the naïve.
- Current Biology 28, 1306–1310 (2018). doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.02.079