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)