Hardwired Roosters

By Anupum Pant

Cock-a-doodle-do is what has been a symbol for the break of dawn since a long long time now. If you live in the countryside, that’s what you’d hear in the morning, a rooster crying out loud. Been there long enough and yet we hadn’t known for long if roosters do it when the see the sunlight or if they are hard-wired in their genes to crow like that.

Takashi Yoshimura of Nagoya University and his team decided to conduct a study on this, to uncover how a rooster really works. Because it has been noted that even a bright light from a car could trigger a rooster to do it. So what was it?

So they kept a well fed rooster indoors, in dim lights. That means, it could see the sun come out. And even then, the constant dim lights of the room failed to fail the rooster. Despite being kept away from the sun, the rooster cried out at the break of dawn. Turns out roosters are genetically hard-wired to crow when it’s dawn time.

It’s a behaviour that’s tuned to something called the circadian rhythm – physical, mental and behavioural change in an organism that follows a 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness. We humans, other animals and plants have these internal clocks that operate based on when the sun comes and goes. For instance, you get tired at night, sleep and wake up in the morning. That’s your circadian clock talking. Roosters have it too, and their voice is wired to this rhythm, not the external stimuli of light.

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