Supplementary material from "Wild jackdaws are wary of objects that violate expectations of animacy"

Published on 2018-10-10T10:50:25Z (GMT) by
Nature is composed of self-propelled, animate agents and inanimate objects. Laboratory studies have shown that human infants and a few species discriminate between animate and inanimate objects. This ability is assumed to have evolved to support social cognition and filial imprinting, but its ecological role for wild animals has never been examined. An alternative, functional explanation is that discriminating stimuli based on their potential for animacy helps animals distinguish between harmless and threatening stimuli. Using remote-controlled experimental stimulus presentations, we tested if wild jackdaws (<i>Corvus monedula</i>) respond fearfully to stimuli that violate expectations for movement. Breeding pairs (<i>N</i> = 27) were presented at their nests with moving and non-moving models of ecologically relevant stimuli (birds, snakes and sticks) that differed in threat level and propensity for independent motion. Jackdaws were startled by movement regardless of stimulus type and produced more alarm calls when faced with animate objects. However, they delayed longest in entering their nest-box after encountering a stimulus that should not move independently, suggesting they recognized the movement as unexpected. How jackdaws develop expectations about object movement is not clear, but our results suggest that discriminating between animate and inanimate stimuli may trigger information gathering about potential threats.

Cite this collection

Greggor, Alison L.; McIvor, Guillam E.; S. Clayton, Nicola; Thornton, Alex (2018): Supplementary material from "Wild jackdaws are wary of objects that violate expectations of animacy". The Royal Society. Collection.