Document Detail

How do banded mongooses locate and select anvils for cracking encased food items?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22516627     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Banded mongooses (Mungos mungo) extract encased food items by throwing them against anvils. Observations indicate that their chosen anvils are generally hard enough to crack open casings, suggesting an understanding of the physical properties that render an anvil suitable for cracking. We report results from two field experiments investigating spatial and physical aspects of anvil selection in a wild group of banded mongooses. Mongooses rapidly carried prey items to nearby anvils in their environment, without simply returning to the last anvil they passed, suggesting a detailed knowledge of anvil locations. Moreover, in choice experiments with hard or soft anvils, they always chose the appropriate anvil when both anvils were natural but chose indiscriminately when they were synthetic. These results support a recent suggestion that mongooses lack a generalized understanding of the functional properties of anvils but also indicate that they may mediate their decisions on the basis of familiarity. Together, our experiments suggest that mongooses employ simple rules of thumb that, in most cases, result in the selection of appropriate anvils. Where environmental problems are limited and predictable, selection will favor the evolution of such rules of thumb rather than a more generalized understanding of functional properties.
Katherine McAuliffe; Alex Thornton
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2012-4-9
Journal Detail:
Title:  Behavioural processes     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1872-8308     ISO Abbreviation:  -     Publication Date:  2012 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-4-20     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7703854     Medline TA:  Behav Processes     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
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