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May 3rd 2017

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Dora Biro Paper on Cumulative Culture in Avian Navigation

A recent paper co-authored by St Hugh’s Tutorial Fellow in Biological Sciences, Professor Dora Biro, has garnered international academic interest. First published in Nature.com, the study looks at how collective intelligence in animal groups can develop through cumulative learning. Professor Biro and her team studied the behaviour of homing pigeons, noting their ability to continuously improve their performance at navigational tasks over time.

The work ultimately demonstrated that the birds were able to transfer knowledge across generations, an ability formerly assumed to require far more complex cognition than the birds are capable of. According to Professor Biro, the phenomenon, known as cumulative cultural evolution, was considered “arguably unique to humans,” before the study.

Within weeks of publication, the research has been picked up and debated by Science Magazine in the US, and even featured in the Daily Telegraph here in the UK. 

You can learn more about Professor Biro and her fascinating work here

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