10 Dec 2013

Crocs and Gators Using Lures to Catch Birds

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Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) equipped with twigs.

Charleston Post and Courier reports on a recent University of Tennessee study which finds saurians in both America and India luring birds to their doom.

American alligators, and their cousin Indian marsh crocodiles, apparently have figured out that if they balance twigs on their snouts, wading birds will try to snatch them for nests. For the quick-snapping gator, that’s free lunch. …

A recently released study – published in Ethology, Ecology and Evolution – is the first to document “lure-baiting” by the species, and one of the few lure-baiting behaviors documented among animals overall.

Nah, you say – just dumb luck? Well, the study documented that alligators in Louisiana use the twig trick only during a relatively brief bird nesting season.

They have thought this thing through.

“For people working with alligators it comes as little surprise because we already know how smart they can be. But for the general public it is apparently a bit unexpected,” said Vladimir Dinets, a University of Tennessee psychology researcher, who is the study’s lead author.

“They are capable of very unique things when it comes to feeding,” said wildlife biologist Phil Wilkinson of Georgetown, who has spent more than 30 years studying the American alligator.


Also in the Daily Mail.

One Feedback on "Crocs and Gators Using Lures to Catch Birds"


i don’t believe it. Sounds like more animal wonders from contemporary animal cognition workers. So what’s the mammalian forebrain (including the frontal lobes) for if reptiles can form plans and so forth? I suppose it is possible that this is some sort of species-typical behavior, in which case it doesn’t qualify as being “smart” in the normal sense of the term. (I’m more inclined to believe in dumb animal behaviorists than smart alligators.)


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