A test was conducted to investigate if mother–infant social transmission plays a role in the acquisition of subterranean habits in the rodent Ctenomys talarum. Thirteen infants were reared by their mother in an experimental aboveground habitat that precluded burrow construction. At the age of natal dispersal, young were allowed to dig in the soil typically inhabited by the species. All experimental tuco-tucos engaged in burrowing activities after short latencies (51 s ± 35 SD). Aboveground excursions lasted a few seconds and covered short distances, and there were no significant differences between experimental and control wild tuco-tucos. The structure of the burrows constructed by experimental tuco-tucos did not substantially differ from those typical for the species. It is concluded that vertical social transmission is not essential for the development of subterranean habits in C. talarum. The results are discussed regarding growing evidence on social transmission and its alleged role during evolution.
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