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How Do Crowing Cocks Know When to Cock-a-Doodle-Doo?

posted: 07/24/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Crowing rooster
Fred Froese/iStock

The rooster's piercing "cock-a-doodle-doo" has long signaled the break of dawn, but how exactly do roosters know who gets to crow first?

According to a new study, the roosters' crowing order actually reflects highly structured social ranking. The highest-ranking roosters crows first, followed by the second, third and fourth. When the highest-ranking rooster is removed from the group, the second-in-command assumes control of the crowing duties.

Researchers also found that the subordinate roosters crowed less often than dominate roosters did. When stimulated with lights and sounds, however, subordinate roosters crowed as much as their superiors did, indicating that the subordinate roosters exercise self-control each morning while they await their leader's song.

"We have discovered that roosters live in a strictly linear hierarchy, where social ranking reflects the order to announce the break of dawn," explains study lead author Takashi Yoshimura.

Click here for more information from Nagoya University

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