Small African mammals known as meerkats teach their young just like humans do, a study finds.
Wild meerkats school their young, University of Cambridge zoologists concluded after observing meerkats in Africa.
Meerkats, members of the mongoose family, don’t simply eat their prey in front of their pups to teach them, the zoologists write in the journal Science. The meerkats make a point of showing them what is edible and what is dangerous.
Older meerkats in the pack, not just the parents, seek out pups to introduce them to food, starting with dead insects and grubs, then injured victims and finally fully mobile prey, the Times of London quotes the study as saying.
Adults oversee the pups’ attempts to overcome and eat prey and will intervene to encourage them to be more adventurous.
The researchers concluded, The lack of evidence for teaching in species other than humans may reflect problems in producing unequivocal support for the occurrence of teaching, rather than the absence of teaching.