Animal Cognition

Getting by with a little help from eel friends

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Science  19 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6203, pp. 1464
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6203.1464-f

Collaboration is an essential component of human behavior. Many other species are known to collaborate as well. For example, coral trout collaborate with moray eels, recruiting the eels to flush out prey hidden in crevices. Vail et al. show that the trout chose to recruit eels under the appropriate conditions (i.e., when prey were hidden). Further, after their first experience with particular eel collaborators, the trout more often chose those eels that were more willing to join in. These results suggest that the cognitive ability to assess appropriate collaborators and conditions is more widespread than previously believed, and likely due more to ecological need than shared ancestry.

Curr. Biol. 10.1016/j.cub.2014.07.033 (2014).

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