What tree skinks know about change: A story in colour and shape

Note from Martin Whiting: This blog posts details a chapter of Birgit Szabo’s PhD recently published in Animal Behaviour and represents an enormous amount of work. Birgit did a 9-month cognition experiment, which could be the longest lizard cognition experiment thus far conducted. (Let us know if it isn’t!) The work is in collaboration . . . → Read More: What tree skinks know about change: A story in colour and shape

Tree skinks go to school: The complexities of social learning in lizards

By: Fonti Kar & Julia Riley

“Never study an animal that is smarter than you” – Dr Martin Whiting

An adult female tree skink after performing the discrimination task we used to quantify their learning ability – she successfully removed the blue lid from this dish and accessed the food reward . . . → Read More: Tree skinks go to school: The complexities of social learning in lizards

Brains and Brawn: dominant lizards are better learners too!

Note: this blog post is republished from Fonti’s web site

Dominant individuals tend to have greater monopoly over food and mates and therefore have more offspring compared to subordinate individuals. Are these successes attributed to greater cognitive ability? Or are dominant individuals just better at freeloading from their clever subordinate counterparts?

We investigated . . . → Read More: Brains and Brawn: dominant lizards are better learners too!

Julia Riley interviewed on ABC radio!

Take a listen to Julia Riley discussing our latest publication on the influence of social environment on learning in tree skinks (Egernia striolata). The interview was with Marc Fennell on ABC radio.

This work, led by Julia, has been published in Animal Cognition:

Riley, JL., Noble, DWA., Byrne, RW., Whiting, MJ. 2016. Does social . . . → Read More: Julia Riley interviewed on ABC radio!

Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

By Julia Riley

A family-living lizard’s ability to navigate through a complex maze is not linked to how they were raised

We have found that the learning ability of the Tree Skink, a lizard that lives with family, is not linked to growing up with others. These lizards were . . . → Read More: Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

PhD opportunity: social intelligence and the evolution of brain size in lizards

We are looking for a PhD student to work on an Australian Research Council grant testing for social intelligence in Egernia skinks.

Here is some background: Uncovering the evolution of intelligence is one of science’s greatest challenges. Social intelligence theory suggests that sociality selects for increasingly sophisticated cognition, but this theory is heavily biased . . . → Read More: PhD opportunity: social intelligence and the evolution of brain size in lizards

Lizard Lab launches new Behaviour and Cognition Centre!

We have acquired an amazing new indoor space in which we can study lizard and toad behaviour and cognition. We have a small room for a Morris Water Maze for studying spatial cognition (ably set up by Jodie Gruber), a much larger room with lots of shelves and CCTV where we are currently working . . . → Read More: Lizard Lab launches new Behaviour and Cognition Centre!

Sex, boldness and learning in a lizard

Followers of the Lizard Lab blog will have read previous reports about relatively rapid learning in lizards. In those studies we typically focused on males or avoided drawing comparisons between the sexes because either the sample size was limited or the focus of the study was different. In our latest paper we decided the . . . → Read More: Sex, boldness and learning in a lizard

Hatchling lizards show their smarts in the classroom

Lizard cognition has experienced something of a resurgence in the last few years. To get up to speed, take a look at a previous post summarising most of the recent published work. In a new paper published online in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Ben Clark, Dan Noble and Martin Whiting from the Lizard Lab . . . → Read More: Hatchling lizards show their smarts in the classroom

PhD opportunities in lizard behavioural ecology at Macquarie University

I currently have several openings for PhD students in my research group. My lab has two major research themes: cognition and animal communication/social behaviour. These themes encompass several disciplines and recent projects include sexual selection, mating systems, signalling and cognition in a multitude of lizard species (blue-tongues, water dragons, eastern water skinks, great desert . . . → Read More: PhD opportunities in lizard behavioural ecology at Macquarie University