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Picture of the Day

Order up! Birds' food sharing linked to hormone

A new study has shown that it's possible to feed two birds with one hormone. The hormone, mesotocin, has a closely related cousin -- oxytocin -- that decades of research suggests can promote prosocial behavior in mammals: stronger affiliations among dogs, greater acts of charity among humans. The researchers set out to determine whether mesotocin could do the same for birds -- specifically pinyon jays, a highly social species known to share food with one another in the wild. After giving pinyon jays a high dose of mesotocin in the lab, the researchers found that food sharing among the birds rose by nearly 32 percent, compared with a 12-percent rise when administering a lower dose. By establishing a link between the hormone and generosity, the study could accelerate experimental research on prosocial behavior beyond the realm of primates and other mammals, according to the researchers.

Visit Website | Image credit: Craig Chandler/University of Nebraska-Lincoln