Pecking the red dot

a theatrical lecture

To celebrate the 65th anniversary of Behaviour and the 40th anniversary of Niko Tinbergen’s Nobel Prize, Dutch theatre company Cowboy bij Nacht and behavioural biologist Carel ten Cate will team up to deliver a special theatrical lecture about the life and work of Niko Tinbergen (1907 — 1988).


Inspired by Tinbergen’s work with herring gulls and his classic experiments on supernormal stimuli, this lecture will provide a brief account of Tinbergen’s experiments on the begging responses of Herring gull chicks, illustrated with a short movie and pictures of Tinbergen’s old notes. Tinbergen’s original data on the famous experiment on the colour of the spot on the lower mandible differ from the well-known textbook figure showing the strongest response to a red spot.


Ten Cate will discuss this and show how recent data also provide a novel twist to the story of the supernormal beak. He will end with some modern examples of supernormal stimuli with humans, which is the main subject of a longterm project on Tinbergen by theatre company Cowboy bij Nacht.




Theatrical lecture

In cooperation with

Theatre group Cowboy bij Nacht

Prof. Carel ten Cate (Institute of Biology, Leiden University),

Brill Publishers (Michiel Thijssen)


International Ethological Conference Behaviour 2013

Newcastle (UK)