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      Commentary: The use of referential gestures in ravens (Corvus corax) in the wild

      Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
      Frontiers Media SA

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          Referential gestures in fish collaborative hunting.

          In humans, referential gestures intentionally draw the attention of a partner to an object of mutual interest, and are considered a key element in language development. Outside humans, referential gestures have only been attributed to great apes and, most recently, ravens. This was interpreted as further evidence for the comparable cognitive abilities of primates and corvids. Here we describe a signal that coral reef fishes, the grouper Plectropomus pessuliferus marisrubri and coral trout Plectropomus leopardus, use to indicate hidden prey to cooperative hunting partners, including giant moray eels Gymnothorax javanicus, Napoleon wrasses Chelinus undulatus and octopuses Octopus cyanea. We provide evidence that the signal possesses the five attributes proposed to infer a referential gesture: it is directed towards an object, mechanically ineffective, directed towards a potential recipient, receives a voluntary response and demonstrates hallmarks of intentionality. Thus, referential gesture use is not restricted to large-brained vertebrates.
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            Referential gestural communication in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

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              The use of referential gestures in ravens (Corvus corax) in the wild.

              Around the age of one year, human children start to use gestures to coordinate attention towards a social partner and an object of mutual interest. These referential gestures have been suggested as the foundation to engage in language, and have so far only been observed in great apes. Virtually nothing is known about comparable skills in non-primate species. Here we record thirty-eight social interactions between seven raven (Corvus corax) dyads in the Northern Alps, Austria during three consecutive field seasons. All observed behaviours included the showing and/or offering of non-edible items (for example, moss, twigs) to recipients, leading to frequent orientation of receivers to the object and the signallers and subsequent affiliative interactions. We report evidence that the use of declarative gestures is not restricted to the primate lineage and that these gestures may function as 'testing-signals' to evaluate the interest of a potential partner or to strengthen an already existing bond.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
                Front. Ecol. Evol.
                Frontiers Media SA
                2296-701X
                October 06 2015
                October 06 2015
                : 3
                :
                Article
                10.3389/fevo.2015.00113
                5e03de17-40b3-4693-8193-9653120e69da
                © 2015

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