Alex Thornton

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After a long period of neglect, the study of teaching in nonhuman animals is beginning to take a more prominent role in research on social learning. Unlike other forms of social learning, teaching requires knowledgeable individuals to play an active role in facilitating learning by the naive. Casting aside anthropocentric requirements for cognitive(More)
In human societies, cultural norms arise when behaviours are transmitted through social networks via high-fidelity social learning. However, a paucity of experimental studies has meant that there is no comparable understanding of the process by which socially transmitted behaviours might spread and persist in animal populations. Here we show experimental(More)
Humans use punishment to promote cooperation in laboratory experiments but evidence that punishment plays a similar role in non-human animals is comparatively rare. In this article, we examine why this may be the case by reviewing evidence from both laboratory experiments on humans and ecologically relevant studies on non-human animals. Generally,(More)
Animal cognition experiments frequently reveal striking individual variation but rarely consider its causes and largely ignore its potential consequences. Studies often focus on a subset of high-performing subjects, sometimes viewing evidence from a single individual as sufficient to demonstrate the cognitive capacity of a species. We argue that the(More)
Teaching has long been a neglected area in animal behaviour, despite its relevance for a wide range of topics. In light of recent evidence for teaching in nonhuman animals, research can begin to examine the conditions under which it may evolve. Here, we make the case for an evolutionary perspective that treats teaching as a form of cooperative behaviour(More)
Despite the obvious benefits of directed mechanisms that facilitate the efficient transfer of skills, there is little critical evidence for teaching in nonhuman animals. Using observational and experimental data, we show that wild meerkats (Suricata suricatta) teach pups prey-handling skills by providing them with opportunities to interact with live prey.(More)
In this paper we present a framework for security and authentication which integrates cleanly into WebFS. We believe that such a framework is integral to the viability of WebFS as a solution for collaborative work and as a le system for general-purpose distributed computing. The need for security features which may be incorporated in a painless manner,(More)
Recent evidence from cooperative insect, bird and mammal societies has challenged the assumption that teaching is restricted to humans. However, little is known about the factors affecting the degree to which individuals in such societies contribute to teaching. Here, I examine variation in contributions to teaching in meerkats, where older group members(More)
Many species are known to acquire valuable life skills and information from others, but until recently it was widely believed that animals did not actively facilitate learning in others. Teaching was regarded as a uniquely human faculty. However, recent studies suggest that teaching might be more common in animals than previously thought. Teaching is(More)