Instead, the scientists determined that prairie dogs do the move in order to assess the awareness of others. If a prairie dog in the study jumped up and wee-ooed and not many others joined in, the individual would forage less. Conversely, if the prairie dog got a great response, it would forage with gusto.
Jump-yips, therefore, help to probe the awareness of others, the researchers conclude.
The stadium wave among humans, at events like the Super Bowl, is very comparable, I think. The sports fans aren't foraging - except maybe for hot dogs and beer - but they do assess team spirit and enhance their sense of togetherness while doing the wave.
It's an animal thing!
Photo: Darlene Stack