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Can cuttlefish embryo learn in this egg?


Eating but not being eaten, two imperatives for the survival of species. The predator recognition plays a fundamental role in the survival of individuals. Within the animal kingdom, adults provide food to young and manage their protection in different forms. When adults are not present after birth or hatching, juveniles must be able to survive without direct parental care and therefore avoid predators by using chemosensory or visual cues. However, we do not yet whether this recognition of predators is innate or acquired for many taxa. Here, we show for the first time that in a cephalopod (the pharaonis cuttlefish), the recognition of predators takes place from the prenatal period and is both innate and acquired. Indeed, embryos are able to recognize predators when they use only the visual or chemical sensory modality even if they have never been in contact with them before. Embryos can also associate a harmless fish as a new predator if it is presented with a warning signal. Such discrimination and learning abilities have for the first time been demonstrated directly on the embryo using a physiological indicator: the ventilatory rate. This project is a strong basis for further experiments and could lead us to expand dramatically our limited knowledge of cuttlefish’s early life stages antipredator behaviour. As in the post-natal studies, our results show that embryos are much more competent than expected and that prenatal life is a preparation for their future postnatal life. The embryo is still too often underestimated and this study shows us that the ability to learn and adapt to its environment does not begin from birth.
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hal-01576157 , version 1 (22-08-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01576157 , version 1


Nawel Mezraï, Lorenzo Arduini, Anne-Sophie Darmaillacq, Chuan-Chin Chiao. Can cuttlefish embryo learn in this egg?. Behaviour 2017 - 35th International Ethological Conference, Jul 2017, Estoril, Portugal. . ⟨hal-01576157⟩
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