If you encountered a relative you didn? know and had never met before, would you be able to tell he or she was related to you? Siberian Jays have the ability to do this ?an ability that was discovered through a study by evolutionary biologists at the University of Zurich.
According to Science Daily:
“Kinship is a critical factor favoring cooperation between individuals. The reason behind this pattern is that helping closely related individuals aids propagating own genes… The Siberian jay, which occurs in Northern Scandinavia and the Siberian taiga, lives in family groups that share a territory. Non-breeding birds are both offspring that remain with their parents for several years beyond independency and individuals that immigrate into groups early in their lives.?lt;/span>
The breeding pair, according to the study, tolerates its offspring, but becomes aggressive toward unrelated outsiders. The biologists who conducted the study used genetic relatedness analyses and found that the breeding pair is most aggressive toward the birds that are most distantly related to them, Science Daily reports.
Researchers believe that the Siberian jays developed this ability through their cooperative behavior. When they gather to feed at a carcass, it? advantageous for them to share with close relatives. However, it remains unclear how Siberian jays determine the closeness of relation in unfamiliar birds.