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Thursday, January 16, 2020


Soo, dear reader, there's this transparent plastic box, divided by a partition with an opening that lets the two halves communicate.
And there're two African gray parrots, one in each half of the box.
And there're two researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, that do an experiment. 

The researchers give to one of the parrots (parrot A) a bunch of metallic rings as a token. After the token, the parrot is given food.
To the other parrot (parrot B), the researchers don't give the token and, therefore, neither food.

At this point, seen this, parrot A passes parrot B one of the metallic rings so that its buddy can have food too.

Researchers then publish a paper (P) on the journal Current Biology where they say that their "findings show that instrumental helping based on a prosocial attitude [...] is present in parrots, suggesting that this capacity evolved convergently in this avian group and mammals" (P) but that whether "the parrots’ helping behavior was caused by an intrinsic motivation to provide help to familiar conspecifics (= spontaneous prosociality) or by their anticipation of reciprocated help in the future (= reciprocity) remains to be addressed" (P).

So, dear reader, to sum up, a couple of researchers find scientific evidence of the first non mammals (parrots) that can be altruistic and help one other (see the video here).

But this dumb blog have a different theory about the "help" thing. See the cartoon to find out.

One parrot is a shark and loan one metal ring to the other one (by @sciencemug)
The true reason why parrots show "kindness" and altruism to one another (by @sciencemug)

[African Gray Parrot's pic by OPi.Toumoto, and cigar pic are under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (source: Wikimedia Commons); all pics adapted by @sciencemug

Paper (P)
Brucks, D., and Bayern, A.M.P. von (2020). Parrots Voluntarily Help Each Other to Obtain Food Rewards. Current Biology 30, 292-297.e5.

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