藉由以往的知識累積，進而傳遞和修改的能力是人類與靈長類最的差異所在，是唯一被認為有此能力的物種。而在牛津大學（University of Oxford）的一項新研究發現，歸巢的鴿子也擁有這項建立知識基礎的能力，並透過經驗累積或記取教訓，來提高牠們的導航效率。
The ability to gather, pass on and improve
on knowledge over generations is known as cumulative culture. Until now humans
and, arguably some other primates, were the only species thought to be capable
Takao Sasaki and Dora Biro, Research
Associates in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, conducted a study
testing whether homing pigeons can gradually improve their flight paths, over
time. They removed and replaced individuals in pairs of birds that were given a
specific navigational task. Ten chains of birds were released from the same
site and generational succession was simulated with the continuous replacement
of birds familiar with the route with inexperienced birds who had never flown
the course before. The idea was that these individuals could then pass their
experience of the route down to the next pair generation, and also enable the
collective intelligence of the group to continuously improve the route's
The findings, published in Nature Communications,
suggest that over time, the student does indeed become the teacher. The pairs'
homing performance improved consistently over generations -- they streamlined
their route to be more direct. Later generation groups eventually outperformed
individuals that flew solo or in groups that never changed membership. Homing
routes were also found to be more similar in consecutive generations of the
same chain of pigeon pairs than across them, showing cross-generational
knowledge transfer, or a "culture" of homing routes.
Takao Sasaki, co-author and Research Fellow
in the Department of Zoology said: 'At one stage scientists thought that only
humans had the cognitive capacity to accumulate knowledge as a society. Our
study shows that pigeons share these abilities with humans, at least to the
extent that they are capable of improving on a behavioural solution
progressively over time. Nonetheless, we do not claim that they achieve this
through the same processes.'
When people share and pass knowledge down
through generations, our culture tends to become more complex over time, There
are many good examples of this from manufacturing and engineering. By contrast,
when the process occurs between homing pigeons, the end result is an increase
in the efficiency, (in this case navigational), but not necessarily the
complexity, of the behaviour.
Takao Sasaki added: 'Although they have
different processes, our findings demonstrate that pigeons can accumulate
knowledge and progressively improve their performance, satisfying the criteria
for cumulative culture. Our results further suggest that cumulative culture
does not require sophisticated cognitive abilities as previously thought.'
This study shows that collective
intelligence, which typically focuses on one-time performance, can emerge from
accumulation of knowledge over time.
Dora Biro, co-author and Associate
Professor of Animal Behaviour concludes: 'One key novelty, we think, is that
the gradual improvement we see is not due to new 'ideas' about how to improve
the route being introduced by individual birds. Instead, the necessary
innovations in each generation come from a form of collective intelligence that
arises through pairs of birds having to solve the problem together -- in other
words through 'two heads being better than one'.'
Moving forward, the team intend to build on
the study by investigating if a similar style of knowledge sharing and
accumulation occurs in other multi-generational species' social groups. Many
animal groups have to solve the same problems repeatedly in the natural world,
and if they use feedback from past outcomes of these tasks or events, this has
the potential to influence, and potentially improve, the decisions the groups
make in the future.
原文連結：University of Oxford. " Homing pigeons share our human ability to build knowledge
across generations. " ScienceDaily, 18 April, 2017.
參考文獻：Takao Sasaki and Dora
Biro. Cumulative culture can emerge from collective intelligence in animal
groups. Nature Communications, 2017. DOI: