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Prairie dogs 'perform Mexican wave'

8 January 2014 Last updated at 16:59 GMT

It looks like a slightly comical Mexican wave, but researchers think this bobbing display could help black-tailed prairie dogs avoid being eaten.

These "jump-yips" as they are known appear to be initiated by one animal, and spread through the group.

In a new analysis of the behaviour, scientists concluded that the prairie dogs use jump-yips to "test" the alertness of their neighbours.

The results are published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.

In this footage, captured by University of Manitoba researcher Robert Senkiw, you can see how jump-yip spread throughout a group of prairie dogs.

Footage courtesy of Robert Senkiw and Jim Hare, University of Manitoba

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