What Wasps Can Teach Us About The Evolution of Animal Minds

Monday, Jan. 29, 2024 (2 PM – 3:30 PM)

Elizabeth Tibbetts

University of Michigan

Why do animals differ in their cognitive abilities? Some animals fail at apparently simple tasks, while others have a remarkable capacity to collect, retain, and use information from the environment to guide their behavior. Although paper wasps brains are smaller than a grain of rice, Tibbetts will show that wasps can perform seemingly complex behaviors like individual face recognition, transitive inference, social eavesdropping, and concept learning. She will also describe experiments that take advantage of natural variation in behavior within and among wasp species to test how social interactions shape cognitive abilities.





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