A new study has shown that bullies are not just a problem for humans. Dwarf mongooses also hate them, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Bristol discovered that animals can recall which members of their group have been involved in fights during the day, and then give them the ‘cold shoulders’ later in the night.
The team was able to observe wild mongooses close-up, which allowed them to examine how wild animals deal with ‘within-group conflicts’, something that is crucial for human lives.
They simulated food contests between two group members in the afternoon by playing back sounds of aggression and watching how others responded.
The team found that even those not involved in the altercations were able to track aggressive behaviour and then act on it later.
When they were back in the sleeping burrow at nights, those deemed to have been’squabbling’ received the cold shoulder from their groupmates.
Dwarf monkeygooses are able remember which group members got into fights during the day and can give them the “cold shoulder”
Dr Amy Morris-Drake from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences is the lead author. She said that conflict management strategies were developed to ‘keep peace’ in multiple species.
They have been observed in humans, chimpanzees and ravens, as well as domestic dogs.
The researcher stated that “our work shows that dwarf mongooses have enough cognitive ability to monitor vocal cues regarding aggressive interactions and to recall who the bullies were, refusing to groom them later.”
Dwarf Mongoose are the smallest carnivores in Africa and have been extensively studied as part of a larger research project.
Researchers individually marked the animals in a wild habitat with blonde hair dye to better understand their interactions with bullies and trained them how to balance on a scale to weigh themselves.
You can observe them from a distance of a few feet as they perform their natural behavior in ecologically sound conditions.
Researchers can now design experiments with the mongoose without having to take them from their natural habitat. This could lead to altered or unnatural results.
Researchers created an experiment in which they mocked up a fight between two animals over food to determine how they deal with bullies and aggressors.
The victim and aggressor made sounds that were recorded by the team, which they played back to the group when there was no aggression.
The rest of their group heard what sounded to be repeated squabbles among the innocent couple, making them believe one was being bullied.
Researchers from the University of Bristol observed wild mongooses in their natural habitat. This allowed them to test their behavior and provide insight into their behavior.
They also recorded all the grooming performed by individuals with their groupmates at the night’s sleeping burrow.
Prof Andy Radford, a senior author, said that grooming can help with hygiene and anxiety.
They gave more grooming to the victim of the bullying when they made the sound squabbling.
The bully was ignored by the victims when they returned to the burrow, and the bully was groomed significantly less than on a normal occasion.
The team wanted a look at how wild animals handle ‘within group conflict’ which is a key feature of human life and that of other social animal.
Dr Morris-Drake explained that this shows that dwarf mongooses monitor conflict among their group members.
“They can identify bullies from their vocalisations during disputes, store this information, and implement a delayed dispute-management strategy. This would include giving the bully the cold shoulder prior to bedtime.
These findings will help researchers understand how animals deal with past conflicts between groupmates.
The journal eLife published the findings.