Finding the beat of collective animal motion

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Virtual Reality experiments have illuminated the rhythmic glue that could keep animals moving in synchrony

Adult zebrafish swimming with conspecifics  Christian Ziegler / Max Planck Inst
Adult zebrafish swimming with conspecifics Christian Ziegler / Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior

Across nature, animals from swarming insects to herding mammals can organize into seemingly choreographed motion. Over the last two decades, scientists have discovered that these coordinated movements arise from each animal following simple rules about where their neighbors are located. Now, scientists studying zebrafish have shown that neighbors might also be moving to the same beat. The team revealed that fish swimming in pairs took turns to move; and, they synchronized the timing of these movements in a two-way process known as reciprocity. ...

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