Marvellous murmurations

April 7, 2017

An excerpt from an OUPblog article published on 7th April 2017, written by Tristram D. Wyatt, author of Animal Behaviour: A Very Short Introduction.

Animal Behaviour: A Very Short Introduction

"Shortly before sunset, especially in winter from October to February, flocks of tens of thousands of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) fly in aerobatic displays called murmurations. The flocks swirl and morph, transforming from, for example, a teardrop shape into a vortex, and then into a long rope. The spontaneous synchronised flock turns as if of one mind. An early 20th century British bird watcher and author Edmund Selous was mystified how such big flocks could be so beautifully coordinated.

We now know that this kind of collective animal behaviour can emerge from relatively simple individual behaviours by each animal. This can produce complex, emergent behaviours larger than the parts..."

Discover more: Read the rest of the article on the OUPblog.



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