Cultural transmission of vocal dialect in the naked mole-rat

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Science  29 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6528, pp. 503-507
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc6588

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The queen's chirp rules

Naked mole-rats are known for their eusocial lifestyle, living in colonies that consist of many workers and a single breeding queen. Little is known about how individuals within these colonies navigate the many interactions that must occur in such a complex cooperative group. Barker et al. show that calls emitted by individuals, in particular the common “chirp” call, convey information specific to the animal's group (see the Perspective by Buffenstein). Group differences are cultural, rather than genetic, and are related to the queen: Cross-fostered pups adopt their rearing colony's dialects, and dialects change with queen replacement.

Science, this issue p. 503; see also p. 461

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