[ Tiffany Peacock. Image: Oliver Hammond ]

Grazing on the savannah, a gazelle spots a feline form moving through the tall grass fifty meters away. It lifts its head, listening and sniffing the breeze. Released like a jack-in-the-box, it springs suddenly straight up into the air. It lands, only to repeatedly leap in place, six feet high, again and again. Other members of the herd notice, and quickly begin to imitate its display.

A magpie alights at the edge of her nest, a juicy caterpiller dangling from her beak. Even before her feet touch the haphazard assembly of twigs, her four nestlings launch into a cacophany of squawks, warbles, clucks, and clackings.

As you are waiting for friend in the hotel lobby, a well-dressed man walks up and asks you for the time. You notice his thousand-dollar suit and, without thinking, address him as "Sir."

What, if anything, do these behaviors have in common?