This is Scientific American — 60-Second Science. I'm Jason G. Goldman.
When is a sneeze more than a sneeze? For African wild dogs, it turns out that sneezes are a form of voting. Gather a bunch of wild dogs together and a sneezing chorus becomes a way of implementing democratic decision-making.
African wild dogs, also known as painted dogs thanks to their colorful, splotchy coats, are known for highly energetic greeting rituals called social rallies.
"It's kind of flat and shrubby in Botswana where these dogs are living. So they spend all day sleeping usually in the shade in dog piles without 20 meters of one another."
Botswana Predator Conservation Trust and Brown University researcher Hallie Walker.
"And so once one dog wants to leave and go hunting, they'll get up from rest and assume this kind of stereotyped posture...I think the easiest way to imagine it is when you get home from work and your dog is really excited to see you; they do that but with each other."
She and her colleagues noticed that dogs would sneeze a lot near the end of their social rallies. At first, they thought the dogs were simply clearing out their dusty airways, but a closer look revealed something more complex.
Walker and her team recorded the details of 68 social rallies from five different wild dog packs in Botswana. And the more sneezes they counted, the more likely it was that the pack would move off and begin hunting. One sneeze, one vote. The finding is in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
It's not a perfectly democratic system though. When the dominant pair of dogs was involved in the sneeze-fest, the pack only required a few sneezes before they took off. But if the dominant pair was not involved, an average of 10 sneezes was needed to decide the matter. Seems that some votes carry more weight than others.
African wild dogs are highly endangered—there may be just 1,400 fully grown adults left in the wild. Walker argues that the more we can understand their behavior and pack dynamics, the better positioned we can be to protect them.
"Anything that we learn more about their decision making can help us manage them better and anticipate those decisions. So that even something as simple as understanding...how they make decisions amongst themselves will help conservationists anticipate those decisions and try to prevent any human–wildlife conflict."
Thanks for the minute for Scientific American — 60-Second Science Science. I'm Jason G. Goldman.
什么时候喷嚏不只是喷嚏？事实表明，对非洲野犬来说，喷嚏是一种投票形式 。将一群野犬聚集在一起，喷嚏合唱成为一种实施民主决策的方法 。
“这些野犬生活在博茨瓦纳，那里地势平坦，丛林灌木众多 。所以，通常一群野犬一整天都在阴凉处睡觉，每个野犬群相隔不超过20米 。”
沃克和同事发现，在社交集会临近结束时，非洲野犬经常打喷嚏 。一开始，他们以为非洲野犬只是在清理呼吸道中的尘土，但是在近距离观察下，他们发现了一些更为复杂的事情 。
沃克和她的团队记录了5个非洲野犬群在博茨瓦纳进行的68场社交集会的详细信息 。他们所记录的喷嚏次数越多，野犬群离开并开始狩猎的可能性越大 。可以说，一个喷嚏代表一张投票 。这项研究结果发表在《英国皇家学会学报B辑》上 。
不过这并不是完美的民主制度 。在野犬群首领夫妻参与喷嚏集会时，野犬群只需要几个喷嚏就可以出发 。但是，如果首领夫妻不参与这种集会，那要做出决定平均需要10个喷嚏 。看起来有些野犬的投票比其它野犬的重要 。
非洲野犬是高度濒危动物，目前野生环境中仅剩1400只成年非洲野犬 。沃克认为，我们越理解非洲野犬的行为和种群动态，我们在保护它们时就能做得更好 。
“我们对非洲野犬的决策所了解的一切信息都能帮助我们更好地照顾它们，并能预见到它们的决定 。即使是像理解这种简单的事情，比如理解它们在种群内部做决定的方式，将帮助自然环境保护主义者预见它们的决定，然后尽力去阻止人类与野生动物之间的冲突 。”
谢谢大家收听科学美国人——60秒科学 。我是杰森·古德曼 。
1. thanks to 幸亏；归因于；
例句：Painful typhoid injections are a thing of the past, thanks to the introduction of an oral vaccine.
2. at first 最初；起初；开始时；
例句：I tried not to take any notice at first but then I was offended by it.
3. clear out 清理，整理；
例句：I took the precaution of clearing out my desk before I left.
4. take off (突然)离开，走开，走掉；
例句：I had better take off.