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Embryos Capable of Communicating Before Hatch


A study published in Nature. Ecology and Evolution* reported on investigations conducted on the fertile eggs of yellow-legged gulls. Investigators subjected late-term embryos to the alarm cry of parent birds eliciting a response manifested by vibration of the egg. The effect was transmitted to embryonated eggs placed adjacent to the eggs with embryos not subjected to audible parental alarms.

The investigators concluded that the response indicated the ability of embryos to communicate from within the shell. This adds to the previous knowledge that sound can influence individual embryos but now it is apparent that communication among embryos is possible.

This study may have implications for commercial incubation. The question arises as to whether current sounds generated in a hatcher may be deleterious to chicks by developing an alarm response pre-hatch. Alternatively, can sound be manipulated to create a beneficial response? This is an intriguing question for both researchers and designers of incubation systems.

*Mariette, M.M and Buchanan, K.L. (2019) Good vibrations in the nest. Nature. Ecology and Evolution.3:1144-1145