• Question: I've always been intrigued as to how animals simply know what they have to do in life to survive? I know they're taught by their parents like us but we stay with our parents for around 17/18 years where as for some animals they're only with their parents for a few weeks/months.

    Asked by Blathin to Kevin on 17 Nov 2014.
    • Photo: Kevin Healy

      Kevin Healy answered on 17 Nov 2014:

      A lot of animals use what is called innate behavior or what might be better known as instinct. This just means its unlearned behaviour such as flying in birds (you only really get one go at that to get it right) right down to your breathing and eating (no one has to teach you to eat or breath).
      While we are very familiar with learning behaviour this is not the case with most other animals. Birds dont tend to learn much from parents as they dont get a chance (They are usually only in contact with parents while in the nest) so their behaviour is evoloved over generations. Birds who have the instinct to fly will survive and pass on thier genes much better then birds who dont have this inbuilt abillity to know how to fly as those individuas would very rarely pass on thier genes. This is true of many animals because it takes much larger brains for the ability to learn as its a very complex thing to do. The non learned behaviours tend to be driven like the way relexs work for example you dont need to think about how to walk every time you need to go get a cup of tea!
      So in sort non learnt behaviour is evolved just like the way wings or flippers are.