Nov 29

New Publication on Animal Curiosity

Curiosity is an intrinsic motivation necessary for animals to acquire new information. One way to examine information seeking in animals, has been to present animals with novel objects and measure the way animals gather information through their explorative behaviors. In this study we assessed explorative behaviors in wild meerkats (Suricata suricatta) tested in their natural environment at the Kalahari Research Center. Our results show that meerkats show stronger interest in novel objects than familiar ones. We also found that odour influenced the meerkats’ explorative behaviors, so that non-odorous items elicited higher curiosity measured through longer explorative manipulation events. This probably reflects the fact that meerkats receive information through their olfactory channel and when a stimulus does not omit any odour, meerkats proceed with visually exploration to receive further information regarding the new stimulus. We also found that the meerkats levels of habituation to humans influenced approaches and exploration of novelty, and we found a strong captivity effect on exploration between captive and wild meerkats.