London, Jan 8 (ANI): Heroic behaviour is not just limited to humans, say scientists who have discovered that dolphins, monkeys, fruit bats and even ants are capable of rescuing their fellow creatures when they are in danger.
Dr Elise Nowbahari, from the University of Paris, say rescue behaviour in wildlife is far more common than previously thought.
The researchers say there is mounting evidence that willingness to go to the aid of others at personal risk is common in a range of species and far from a solely human trait.owbahari said that dolphins endanger themselves to rescue trapped dolphins, lifting an injured dolphin to the water's surface to help it breathe.
Monkeys will drive away an attacker from a vulnerable female or infants and female fruit bats help other fruit bats in labour to ease the birth.
Ants frequently help other ants from the same colony if they are caught in traps or by a predator - though their heroism does not extend to helping ants from other colonies whose actual cries for help are ignored.
"We may be underestimating the extent of rescue behaviour in the wild," the Telegraph quoted Nowbahari as saying.
"Reports of rescue behaviour in non-human animals are exceedingly rare but is far more common than thought," she added.
She has drawn up a four-point heroism model that could be applied to the behaviour of any creature, including humans, to identify heroic acts.
First, the individual being helped is in distress and unless it escapes on its own it will suffer severe physical harm. Second, the rescuer places themselves in harm's way by helping.
Third, the rescuer's behaviour is suitable to the circumstances of the victim's distress. And last, rescuing is not done for any inherent reward.
"Human acts of heroism are often rewarded with medals and commendations, for example. But one needs to distinguish between the reward inherent in the rescuing someone and the reward that may or may not be given if the act is recognised," she said.
The researchers now intend to apply the four-point model to a range of non-human animal situations to determine if the rescuer's behaviour was indeed heroic.
By using this detached method she expects to be able to document an enormous range of animals being heroic.
The study has been published in the latest issue of Communicative and Integrative Biology. (ANI)