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Sing me something smart

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Published: 15 Aug 2008

When shopping for a mate, female zebra finches might choose males with the sweetest song because singing ability advertises intellectual prowess. Neeltje Boogert of McGill University found that the males who sang the most complex melodies were also quicker at solving a problem to find food.

When shopping for a mate, female zebra finches might choose males with the sweetest song because singing ability advertises intellectual prowess. Neeltje Boogert of McGill University found that the males who sang the most complex melodies were also quicker at solving a problem to find food. Boogert presented her research on 11 August at the International Behavioral Ecology Congress at Cornell University. “Neeltje is the first to experimentally demonstrate a link between the expression of song and some aspect of cognition that really matters,” says Steve Nowicki, who studies bird behaviour at Duke University, and was not involved with the project. “It’s a really important study.”

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