Tinkle Facts
Teachers in the Wild
Writer: Rebekah Sarah Jose
Illustrator: Shivani Pednekar


  • Southern Africa’s Southern pied babblers train their chicks to associate a purr call with getting food.  
  • Superb fairy wren chicks are taught a password when they’re in their eggs. They later use this to call for food.    
  • Temnothorax albipennis ants have an interesting way of showing other ants the way to a new food source. This is called tandem running. Sometimes, the ants slow down to help a newcomer keep up and to note helpful landmarks. 
  • Meerkats patiently teach their pups how to be careful with dangerous scorpions which is one of their main food sources. The youngest ones get dead scorpions and as they get older, they get alive but injured scorpions to train on. If a pup seems disinterested, the teacher will often nudge it to success. 
  • Similar to the meerkat strategy, domestic cats and cheetahs, kill prey for their younger kittens and cubs but bring live prey to the older ones.   
  • Golden lion tamarins or golden lion marmosets, as they’re also called, find prey in the hollows of trees. They then call to their young ones to join and let them get the prey for themselves. The youngsters have a higher rate of success in catching prey when they have adult help. 
  • Sperm whale calves learn their dialect which is a specific sequence of clicks from their mothers and other whales in their social group. These clicks are specific to each region. 
  • Patagonian killer whales, Orcinus orca, are known to strand themselves on beaches in order to catch pinnipeds such as seals. But as this can be risky, it is suggested that adult whales push the younger ones up and down the beach, directing them towards the prey, in a bid to teach them the ropes of intentional stranding.
National Geographic
The Evolution of Teaching

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