Sunday Sketch: Dog democracy is nothing to sneeze at

Did you know that African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) hold rallies and vote? In between bouts of movement, members in the pack will hold social rallies which essentially act as highly ritualized greeting ceremonies that help foster social cohesion in the group. In order to make the group decision to leave and go for a hunt, members of the pack will sneeze as a way of making it known that they are ready to head out. Once the number of sneezing members hits a threshold, the group will leave. What’s more, the number of sneezes required changes based on whether or not the most dominant individuals are involved in the voting. If the dominant male and female are involved and vote, it only takes a few sneezes to reach a decision as opposed to needing 10 or more votes when the dominant individuals are not involved.

Sketch contributed by Victoria Farrar

Fact contributed by Adrian Perez

Source: Walker, R.H., King, A.J., McNutt, J.W. and Jordan, N.R., 2017. Sneeze to leave: African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) use variable quorum thresholds facilitated by sneezes in collective decisions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences284(1862), p.20170347.

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