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    Cockerels wake up in the morning from their own internal clocks, not sunlight

    NewsBirdsTuesday 26 March 2013
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    For the years before the alarm clock, the duty of waking up the human often fell to the cockerel or, more commonly referred to as the rooster.

    It was a given theory that it was sunlight that would alert them to the new day; however researchers in Japan have argued differently and they believe that the wake up call comes from their own internal genetic clocks rather than sunlight. Even though it is a well-known phenomenon it is not believed that anybody has gone so far as to scientifically test this theory.

    They also discovered that the crowing is based on a social hierarchy. The loudest and earliest cockerel to crow is the most dominant and after that come the others who are patient enough to wait. It also helps designate territorial claims where the cockerels are based.

    Two sets of cockerels were put through two different sets of conditions. One set were put through 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dim light for two weeks. The other group were kept under 24 hours of dim light for 2 weeks. Rather than not crowing at all, the cockerals would crow when they believed it to be morning.

    National Geographic notes that “When the scientists exposed the roosters to sound and light stimuli to test whether external cues would also elicit crows, they found that the animals would vocalize more in response to light and sound in the mornings than during other times of day. This means the roosters' internal clocks take precedence over external cues.”

    The news has taken other researchers by surprise. Kristen Navara a hormone specialist in poultry at the University of Georgia states that "I think many times we don't think to study what appears right in front of us, "Navara, who wasn't involved in the research, said by email. For instance, "we have definitely noticed in our own roosters that they begin to crow before dawn and have wondered why that was, but just never thought to test whether it was a circadian rhythm driven by an internal clock rather than an external cue."

    Cockerels are refered to as Roosters in North America and are male chickens. They will start crowing generally before 4 months of age and depending on the breed and personality can crow at various times of the day. There are some who believe that Roosters have no such thing as a biological clock and will simply crow whenever they want. 

     

     

    Photo: Baugher

     

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