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7 examples of animal democracy

By: Russell McLendon on Nov. 4, 2012, 5:28 p.m.
flock of pigeons

Photo: D.B./Flickr

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Pigeons rarely get respect on city streets, but according to biologists at Oxford University, they have complex social hierarchies in which even low-ranking birds can vote on the flock's next flight. Using GPS trackers attached to tiny backpacks, the researchers found that "most birds have a say in decision-making, [but] a flexible system of 'rank' ensures that some birds are more likely to lead and others to follow."

This kind of setup, they add, "may represent a particularly efficient form of decision-making."