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DOI: 10.31862/2500-2961-2021-11-2-246-275

Cognitive achievements of “urban” birds: Nothing to do with domestication

he article discusses the unsuitability of the model of domestication by D.K. Belyaev to understand the changes occurring on the ecological and evolutionary scales of time during the development of cities by “wild” species of birds and mammals. Domesticization and urbanization are often considered synomymous as both are viewed as “adaptation to humans and the artificial environment created by them”, i.e. the development of synanthropy. The analysis carried out shows the fallacy of this identification. As wild species urbanize, the brain grows, as in other extreme habitats. Cognitive progress is achieved by each “urban” individual independently, due to the developmental impact of the urban environment, in assessing and predicting the dynamics of the urban environment by signals. Therefore, it is preceded by the rise of courage, better differentiation of stimuli, separation of the significant ones (they will react to them) from all the others, to which resistance is growing. On the contrary, with domestication, the brain decreases, cognitive progress in a new habitat is achieved due to the “cooperative thinking”, social “prompts” of people and relatives. The dubiousness of the hypothesis of “self-domestication” of the pygmy chimpanzee-bonobos, developed within the framework of the same identification, and its partial applicability to humans are demonstrated. The main factor to which they adapt during urbanization (to a lesser extent, in the settlement of other anthropogenically modified landscapes) is environmental stress associated with general instability and variability of the urban environment, including parts of habitats of the species in the city, especially when these are “fragments” of natural landscapes, captured during the territorial growth of cities and more or less changed during their existence within urban areas.

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