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Recognition of individuals across species

Posted by Chapouthier on 04 Apr 2011 at 07:40 GMT

Since several years, the present group makes interesting studies in horse behaviour. In the present study, the authors analyzed responses of horses having to remain immobile under a vocal order given by a familiar or an unknown person. The attentional state of the person towards the horse was also investigated. With an unknown person, obedience levels were higher when the person giving the order was looking at the horse than when he was not attentive. Furthermore horses gave much more attention to the unknown person, as if, according to the authors, “ they were surprised to hear the familiar order given by an unknown voice”. These data support recognition of specific human individuals by horses through an integrated and multisensory representation. Recognition of individuals within the species has been shown in several species of mammals and birds. This interesting study emphasizes the rarely studied situation of recognition of individuals across species.

No competing interests declared.