The selfish preen: absence of allopreening in Palaeognathae and its socio-cognitive implications

Anim Cogn. 2023 May 31. doi: 10.1007/s10071-023-01794-x. Online ahead of print.ABSTRACTPreening behaviours are widespread in extant birds. While most birds appear to autopreen (self-directed preening), allopreening (preening directed at conspecifics) seems to have emerged only in certain species, but across many families. Allopreening has been hypothesised to reinforce mutual relationships and cooperation between individuals, and to underpin various socio-cognitive abilities. Palaeognathae is a bird group exhibiting neurocognitively plesiomorphic traits compared to other birds. They share many features with non-avian paravian dinosaurs and are thus important for the study of cognitive evolution in birds. Despite this, and the important correlation of allopreening with many complicated social behaviours, allopreening has not been systematically studied in Palaeognathae. Therefore, we examined the preening behaviours in four species of palaeognaths: common ostriches (Struthio camelus), greater rheas (Rhea americana), emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae), and elegant crested tinamous (Eudromia elegans). We compared findings with common ravens (Corvus corax), a neognath species known for its allopreening and complex social cognition. We found autopreening, but no allopreening, in the palaeognath species, while both autopreening and allopreening was found in common ravens. The absence of allopreening in Palaeognathae suggests an emergence of this behaviour within Neognathae. We context...
Source: Animal Cognition - Category: Zoology Authors: Source Type: research
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