Dr. Birgit Szabo talks lizard smarts!

Birgit recently gave a public lecture about her research on lizard cognition at a mini-conference “The Future of Herpetology, Inspiring Women and Forgotten Frogs: A conference promoting women’s voices in herpetology”. Watch her talk (below) and find out more about Birgit and her work on her web page.

Dr. Birgit Szabo talking about . . . → Read More: Dr. Birgit Szabo talks lizard smarts!

Blue-tongue lizards are born smart, at least as smart as their parents!

By Birgit Szabo

As children we have much to learn after we are born. We learn to walk, to talk, to develop our social skills, and when we start school we learn how to read, write and do maths.

​Humans, and many other animals, are considered altricial, meaning that juveniles need to be taken . . . → Read More: Blue-tongue lizards are born smart, at least as smart as their parents!

Hot off the press! An invasive lizard species can learn from other species

Check out our new paper on social learning in the Italian wall lizard, Podarcis sicula. This work formed part of Isabel Damas’ PhD thesis, and it was a huge effort! The question of what makes an invasive species successful compared to other species, that may fail to gain a foothold in a new location, . . . → Read More: Hot off the press! An invasive lizard species can learn from other species

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!