Yearbook 2011

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The Humboldt Research Group focuses on cognitive complexity underlying gestural signaling in three model groups to uncover the mystery of language evolution: different human cultures; closely related species; and species which live in comparable social systems. In a new study, they showed that ravens use their beaks similarly to hands to show and offer objects to conspecifics. These referential gestures may be used to test the interest of a potential partner or to strengthen an already existing relationship. more
A long-term study on the genetic inheritance of sexual behavior in the zebra finch conducted at the MPIO casts new light on the causes of sexual infidelity. Previously, it was always assumed that female infidelity could only evolve if it was beneficial to females. The present study, however, shows that this is not necessarily the case. Since male and female infidelity appear to be controlled by largely the same genes, the existence of female infidelity may simply be explained by the fact that the responsible genetic variants were positively selected in the male ancestors. more
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