Eurasian jays have been reported to protect their caches by responding to cues about either the visual perspective or current desire of an observing conspecific, similarly to other corvids. Here, we used established paradigms to test whether these birds can - like humans - integrate multiple cues about different mental states and perform an optimal response accordingly. Across five experiments, which also include replications of previous work, we found little evidence that our jays adjusted their caching behaviour in line with the visual perspective and current desire of another agent, neither by integrating these social cues nor by responding to only one type of cue independently. These results raise questions about the reliability of the previously reported effects and highlight several key issues affecting reliability in comparative cognition research.
Data and analyses of all experiments are available at http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4636561
- Piero Amodio
- Benjamin G Farrar
- Christopher Krupenye
- Nicola S Clayton
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All procedures were approved by the University of Cambridge Animal Ethics Committee (reference n. ZOO35/17).
- Detlef Weigel, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Germany
© 2021, Amodio et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
The Early Cretaceous diversification of birds was a major event in the history of terrestrial ecosystems, occurring during the earliest phase of the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution, long before the origin of the bird crown-group. Frugivorous birds play an important role in seed dispersal today. However, evidence of fruit consumption in early birds from outside the crown-group has been lacking. Jeholornis is one of the earliest-diverging birds, only slightly more crownward than Archaeopteryx, but its cranial anatomy has been poorly understood, limiting trophic information which may be gleaned from the skull. Originally hypothesised to be granivorous based on seeds preserved as gut contents, this interpretation has become controversial. We conducted high-resolution synchrotron tomography on an exquisitely preserved new skull of Jeholornis, revealing remarkable cranial plesiomorphies combined with a specialised rostrum. We use this to provide a near-complete cranial reconstruction of Jeholornis, and exclude the possibility that Jeholornis was granivorous, based on morphometric analyses of the mandible (3D) and cranium (2D), and comparisons with the 3D alimentary contents of extant birds. We show that Jeholornis provides the earliest evidence for fruit consumption in birds, and indicates that birds may have been recruited for seed dispersal during the earliest stages of the avian radiation. As mobile seed dispersers, early frugivorous birds could have expanded the scope for biotic dispersal in plants, and might therefore explain, at least in part, the subsequent evolutionary expansion of fruits, indicating a potential role of bird–plant interactions in the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution.
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