A species of wasp has evolved the ability to recognize one another's faces, stunning scientists

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A species of wasp has evolved the ability to recognize one another's faces, stunning scientists Empty A species of wasp has evolved the ability to recognize one another's faces, stunning scientists

Post by Ben Reilly on Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:02 pm

One wasp species has evolved the ability to recognize individual faces among their peers—something that most other insects cannot do—signaling an evolution in how they have learned to work together.

A team led by Cornell University researchers used population genomics to study the evolution of cognition in the Northern paper wasp, Polistes fuscatus. The research suggests the wasps' increasing intelligence provided an evolutionary advantage and sheds light on how intelligence evolves in general, which has implications for many other species—including humans.

"The really surprising conclusion here is that the most intense selection pressures in the recent history of these wasps has not been dealing with climate, catching food or parasites but getting better at dealing with each other," said Michael Sheehan, professor of neurobiology and behavior, and senior author on the paper. "That's pretty profound."

Many vertebrate animals can recognize individual faces, at least in some circumstances, but among insects, facial recognition is quite uncommon. This study explored how and when this ability evolved by analyzing patterns of genetic variations within species.

https://phys.org/news/2020-01-profound-evolution-wasps.html

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Post by Original Quill on Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:40 pm

How do they know it's vision ('recognize one another's faces') and not pheromones?

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Post by Ben Reilly on Sat Feb 01, 2020 7:41 pm

Original Quill wrote:How do they know it's vision ('recognize one another's faces') and not pheromones?

I took a glance at the scientific paper, and it's a conclusion arrived at by studying this wasp's genome and comparing it to other species which can recognize faces -- apparently the genes responsible for facial recognition are present in this wasp's genome. Really technical stuff, but it does make sense to me.

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Post by Original Quill on Sat Feb 01, 2020 8:23 pm

Pheromones were only discovered in 1979.  They are defined as hormones that operate on the bodies of others.

Scientists are still grappling with what effects they have and finding that, once, where we thought it was visual recognition, or some communication, now it is seen as the chemical communication of pheromones.  Same with smell, except that pheromones operate by way of olfaction through special receptors known as vomeronasal receptors.  Such things as fear, alarm and attraction are transmitted by pheromones. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pheromone  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vomeronasal_receptor

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