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First evidence that reptiles can learn through imitation

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posted on Sep, 30 2014 @ 08:27 PM
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(((Mods: I tried two different searches & this article didn't come up. Also, I picked this forum because it's the closest to animals as you have)))

There are a lot of people who think that humans are the only intelligent creature on Earth but that is a completely arrogant and untrue belief. We are constantly learning how intelligent some animals are. EX: crows, octopus, elephants, fish & even insects. People think that just because we can't understand their language that they have no intelligence but if they were to run across a human who speaks a different language than them, they wouldn't think the person who spoke a different language had no intelligence. That is basically the case with other creatures, we don't understand their language but by watching them & studying their behavior, we can see that they are intelligent.



The ability to acquire new skills through the 'true imitation' of others' behaviour is thought to be unique to humans and advanced primates, such as chimpanzees.

Scientists draw an important distinction between imitation and emulation when studying the cognitive abilities of animals. In true imitation, the individual 'copying' another's behaviour not only mimics what they see, but also understands the intention behind the action. In emulation, an animal copies a behaviour without understanding its deeper significance: for example, a parrot reciting the words of its owner.

There is considerable debate about the extent to which non-primates are capable of true imitation.



They set out to investigate whether the bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) is capable of imitating another bearded dragon through a simple experiment using a wooden board which contained a doorway.

All subjects successfully copied the actions of the demonstrator lizard, suggesting for the first time that reptiles exhibit social learning through imitation equivalent to that observed in 'higher' species.

Lead researcher Dr Anna Wilkinson from the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK, said: "The ability to learn through imitation is thought to be the pinnacle of social learning and long considered a distinctive characteristic of humans. However, nothing is known about these abilities in reptiles. This research suggests that the bearded dragon is capable of social learning that cannot be explained by simple mechanisms -- such as an individual being drawn to a certain location because they observed another in that location or through observational learning. The finding is not compatible with the claim that only humans, and to a lesser extent great apes, are able to imitate."

Reptiles and mammals evolved from a common ancestor and the investigation of similarities and differences in their behaviour is essential for understanding the evolution of cognition, Dr Wilkinson explained.

Recent advances in the field of reptile cognition have found evidence of sophisticated abilities in this group.



Here is a brief breakdown of what took place within the study:

-One lizard was trained to act as a 'demonstrator', opening a wire door which covered a hole in a wooden board. The door could be moved horizontally along sliding rails to left or right by use of the head or the foot. The demonstrator was then rewarded with food (a mealworm) on the other side of the door.

-The subjects were divided into an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group watched the demonstrator lizard approaching the test apparatus and opening the door with a sliding head movement.

What they saw:
-All eight experimental subjects went on to successfully open the sliding door, pushing it to the same side they had observed. None of the control group subjects did this.

When they compared the results between the experimental group and the control group they noticed a key difference between them. While the sliding head movement occurred in the case of all experimental subjects, it was never observed in the control subjects. As this was the movement that the demonstrator performed in order to open the sliding door, this suggests that experimental subjects imitated an action that was not part of their spontaneous behaviour. This, together with differences in behaviour between experimental and control groups, suggests that learning by imitation is likely to be based on ancient mechanisms.

To sum it up for you folks, these results reveal the first evidence of imitation in a reptile species and suggest that reptiles can use social information to learn through imitation.

Now I know this may not be super interesting to some people but I find animal behaviour as interesting as human behaviour, if not more fascinating. If I could go around and study different species around the world for the rest of my life, I'd be a happy camper. If, when I die, we have control over what we want to do, I would want to study so many different things on Earth. (Mind you I'd have to go back in time to see some of it but that's ok
I'll check out Ancient Civilizations while I'm at
)




posted on Sep, 30 2014 @ 09:07 PM
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I demonstrated to a tame feral cat how to use our cat flap, using my fingers as imitation paws. She caught on cautiously. Her kitten caught on instantly and barreled through the cat-flap.



posted on Sep, 30 2014 @ 09:16 PM
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Wait....
Someone got paid (likely a grant) to see if an animal can learn by watching other's behaviors?!

I'm no scientist but I don't think you really need to be to figure this one out. How does any creature/animal learn to hunt?

I understand that some creatures are born/hatched and never know a parent. Even those tend to stay together for a time with siblings and learn what works from each other.

I think we could better spend our money on helping humanity in more useful ways. I'm not knocking you OP I like your thread, and appreciate the work you put into it! Much more than a link followed by "thoughts?" I just don't really see how we didn't already understand this enough to warrant a complete study on the subject.

Yea! A Bearded Dragon taught his buddies to open a door to get free food! Sorry if I'm coming off as cynical somebody 30 miles away has been confirmed to have Ebola and had opportunity to infect others, AND today a case of Endovirus was found in a child in my city. Somehow only kids are getting it?! Lest stop the BS and spend our money studying how to stop that! Again, my bad, hope not to detail your thread but I had to say it.



posted on Sep, 30 2014 @ 09:25 PM
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Please post a link to your source data, or at least a citation. Thanks.



posted on Sep, 30 2014 @ 09:45 PM
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originally posted by: wastedown
Wait....
Someone got paid (likely a grant) to see if an animal can learn by watching other's behaviors?!

I'm no scientist but I don't think you really need to be to figure this one out. How does any creature/animal learn to hunt?

I understand that some creatures are born/hatched and never know a parent. Even those tend to stay together for a time with siblings and learn what works from each other.

I think we could better spend our money on helping humanity in more useful ways. I'm not knocking you OP I like your thread, and appreciate the work you put into it! Much more than a link followed by "thoughts?" I just don't really see how we didn't already understand this enough to warrant a complete study on the subject.

Yea! A Bearded Dragon taught his buddies to open a door to get free food! Sorry if I'm coming off as cynical somebody 30 miles away has been confirmed to have Ebola and had opportunity to infect others, AND today a case of Endovirus was found in a child in my city. Somehow only kids are getting it?! Lest stop the BS and spend our money studying how to stop that! Again, my bad, hope not to detail your thread but I had to say it.


You clearly are not a reptile owner or hobbyist. If you have ever owned reptiles you would realize how astounding this news would be. They are intelligent creatures but not social creatures. They do not love, they do not get lonely or seek affection. They don't like people, they learn to tolerate us.

To the OP: As Astyanax requested, I would also like to see your source. I own pagona vitticeps (bearded dragons) and several other reptile species. This piques my interest. Star and Flag.
edit on 30-9-2014 by 59demon because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 30 2014 @ 10:36 PM
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Sorry, I forgot to provide a link to the article.
First evidence that reptiles can learn through imitation

Here is the link to the study as well:
Social learning by imitation in a reptile



posted on Sep, 30 2014 @ 10:47 PM
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a reply to: wastedown

Just wondering if you actually read the article before commenting.


Scientists draw an important distinction between imitation and emulation when studying the cognitive abilities of animals. In true imitation, the individual 'copying' another's behaviour not only mimics what they see, but also understands the intention behind the action. In emulation, an animal copies a behaviour without understanding its deeper significance: for example, a parrot reciting the words of its owner.

There is considerable debate about the extent to which non-primates are capable of true imitation.


This study is the first compelling scientific evidence that reptiles could be capable of social learning through imitation.


All subjects successfully copied the actions of the demonstrator lizard, suggesting for the first time that reptiles exhibit social learning through imitation equivalent to that observed in 'higher' species.


This is more than just your basic imitation, this is true imitation.
~~~~~~~~~

As for the whole Ebola being in the U.S. The only reason there is this Ebola pandemic in the first place is to lower human populations & get more U.S troops in Africa. ((The reason they want more troops in Africa is because they need to secure the oil there & make sure China/other countries don't get it. That's why there is a group called Boko Haram, they were created by the U.S just like Al Qaeda & ISIS))



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 05:16 AM
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a reply to: Sabiduria

Your first link isn't working.
Interesting....will wait till you get that fixed to comment further.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 05:27 AM
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Fascinating, there's been quite a few new acceptances in science towards animals lately, such as finding companion animals such as dogs do feel love(as opposed to being robot like which science supported for so long).

a reply to: wastedown
From a Veterinary standpoint it does help people. Learning about the coined "reptile" brain can help in areas such as mental health with humans. Not limited to just humans, but animal behavior ranging from wildlife preservation to companion and wildlife animal caretakers.


Sorry about Ebola being so close to home and Enterovirus. My state just confirmed Enterovirus and it's around locally. I'm worried for young family-which this could really harm them due to a condition being present. In fact that family may be in TX still, have to get in touch. It's even further concerning, because of the Ebola patient being sent home for non suspicion of Ebola. Hospitals are underestimating concerns, or maybe he did not alert them to the fact he was in an affected area days prior to feeling ill? If not, something needs to changed here!

With that i don't believe reptile research such as the OP is hindering Ebola studies. Because of the case just may be people in healthcare underestimating the situation.
Must illustrate,
These research studies are important in many ways, research may find why Zoonotic disease such as Ebola persists in nature, giving it that avenue to spread to humans.


edit on 1-10-2014 by dreamingawake because: added more



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 11:30 AM
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a reply to: Jakal26

I was able to open both links but here is the first one again. First evidence that reptiles can learn through imitation



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 11:41 AM
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How many doors do lizards have to open when they are in the wild?

Where the lizards bred in captivity or did they pluck them out of the wild?

How much did this stupid study cost the tax payers?

This is about as useful as the treadmill shrimp.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 11:53 AM
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a reply to: 59demon
My friend has a bearded dragon, there is no way on earth anyone will be able to tell me that Monster does not absolutly enjoy being with her owner..you would have to see it, also likes to hang out with the cat, Im pretty experienced with exotic pets(25yrs) and I know what im seeing.
To the OP..very cool, thanks for posting, there is more intelligence/communication going on than is generaly accepted in the animal world.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 11:56 AM
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Humans carry a working and active reptilian brain as part of our larger brain, so any new discoveries or behavioral explanations not only educate us about our reptile cousins, but about ourselves as well.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 06:39 PM
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a reply to: thesaneone

You may think this study was a waste but it wasn't.

I believe this money was spent well, I'd prefer it to be spent on this instead of busting people who smoke pot.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 09:51 PM
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a reply to: vonclod

I understand what you are saying. I do. I don't believe you are interpreting the animals actions correctly, however. Too often, people anthropomorphize reptiles; bearded dragons and leopard geckos in particular. My bearded dragon female used to crawl up my shirt sleeve and fall asleep on me. My male leopard gecko Loki, will climb into my hand when I offer my palm to him.

These actions do not mean they love me. They simply trust me. They know I give them bugs. They're smart. They aren't dogs and they certainly aren't humans. I also have snakes and frogs and they are even less personable.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 10:22 PM
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a reply to: 59demon

How do you know they don't love you? What evidence do you have?



posted on Oct, 4 2014 @ 03:40 PM
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originally posted by: Sabiduria
a reply to: 59demon

How do you know they don't love you? What evidence do you have?


Seriously? Really?

What evidence do you have that humans are capable of a non-tangible emotion?

Jesus... Lol.

I was simply stating that I agree with your OP. Reptiles are much smarter than most folks give them credit for. I went on to add that the reason they are often misattributed with being stupid is because their intelligence is often compared with human intelligence which is just not right way to measure it.

Have a fantastic day.



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