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Super Spiders Make Bolder Birds

Date:
August 29, 2007
Source:
University Of Glasgow
Summary:
Recent research has revealed that by feeding spiders to their chicks, birds can manipulate the personality and learning ability of their young. Researchers reveal that birds preferentially feed their young spiders containing taurine. Chicks fed taurine were on average much bolder and better at learning in adulthood, according to the researchers. Taurine is an amino acid which is also found in breast milk and energy drinks. The beneficial qualities of taurine include aiding the development of premature babies and reducing blood pressure in human adults, but it has not previously been known how taurine influences the development of birds.

Birds fed taurine as chicks were on average much bolder and better at learning in adulthood, than their counterparts who were not fed the extra taurine.
Credit: Image courtesy of University Of Glasgow

Recent research has revealed that by feeding spiders to their chicks, birds can manipulate the personality and learning ability of their young.

In a report recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, University of Glasgow researchers reveal that birds preferentially feed their young spiders containing taurine.

Taurine is an amino acid which is also found in breast milk and energy drinks. The beneficial qualities of taurine include aiding the development of premature babies and reducing blood pressure in human adults, but it has not previously been known how taurine influences the development of birds.

By comparing the behaviour of wild blue tits that were fed a taurine supplement, mimicking a diet rich in spiders, with blue tits that were not, researchers were able to observe the long term impacts of this vital nutrient.

Lead researcher Dr Kate Arnold said: “We found that taurine has a significant impact on the personality and memory of the birds. Those who were fed taurine as chicks were on average much bolder and better at learning in adulthood, than their counterparts who were not fed the extra taurine. This is the first time that we have been able to fully explain why birds feed their young spiders at a particular stage in their development and how parents can permanently alter the behaviour of their offspring via the food that they select.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Glasgow. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Glasgow. "Super Spiders Make Bolder Birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070824220328.htm>.
University Of Glasgow. (2007, August 29). Super Spiders Make Bolder Birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070824220328.htm
University Of Glasgow. "Super Spiders Make Bolder Birds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070824220328.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

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