A study with giraffes questions the abilities of animals with small brains

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THE giraffes they showed great skill and even do basic statistical calculations to choose your favorite fooda highly developed cognitive function that until now had only been tested in animals with large brains, like primates.

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This has been confirmed by a team of scientists who conducted a study with four giraffes in Barcelona zoowhere they verified that these animals may have far more sophisticated statistical abilities than previously thought.

The research was conducted by scientists from the University of Leipzig, Germany’s Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology at the University of Barcelona, ​​and the conclusions of their work are published today in Scientific reports.

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These capabilities to make simple statistical “calculations”. they had not been observed until now in animals with proportionally smaller brainslike giraffes.

The researchers showed the giraffes the choice between clenched vegetable sticks that were extracted from transparent boxes that contained mainly, but not only, portions of carrots (your favourites) e zucchini sticks (least preferred). The animals saw which box the food was taken from, but not which vegetable they selected and the researchers offered them.

The ability to do simple statistical "calculations" has not yet been observed in animals with proportionally smaller brains, such as giraffes.

The ability to do simple statistical “calculations” has not yet been observed in animals with proportionally smaller brains, such as giraffes.

And in most cases they verified that the animals reached out towards the food that had been removed from the box where there were mainly carrots and therefore the chances of getting that food were higher.

Therefore, scientists have suggested that a large brain may not be a prerequisite for such cognitive abilities and that the ability to make statistical interference it may be more prevalent in the animal kingdom than previously thought.

Researcher Álvaro López Caicoya, from the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology of the University of Barcelona, ​​​​​​has highlighted the importance of study to understand evolution, as more and more things and abilities are known that are not exclusively human.

In statements to EFE, López Caicoya explained that until thirty years ago this type of statistical reasoning was thought to be typical only of adult human beings, “but today we know that it is also present in infants of a few months, in primates, in parrots and now also in giraffes”.

“It’s important to realize that most of the things we think make us special are present in many more animals,” the researcher underlined, noting the relevance of this ability for giraffes, since the savannah environment in which they live it is characterized by having trees that are widely spaced and therefore can identify from a distance which trees have better proportions of leaves and flowers.

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“It’s important to realize that most of the things we think make us special are present in many more animals,” said researcher López Caicoya.

That way save energy by saving unnecessary travel to less desirable food sources and focus their efforts on reaching trees that provide them with the most beneficial nutrients, he explained.

According to him it is a fundamental ability in the animal and he does not believe that the fact of living in captivity determines the results, since they are not animals -he specified- that have not been trained for that nor do they have much interaction with humans beyond the study

Caicoya noted that wild giraffes are very elusive to humans and would never come close to carrying out an experiment like this, so research would be impossible with animals that weren’t in captivity, and he was convinced that “giraffe data in captivity they are the best we will ever have to evaluate this kind of ability in these animals.” EFE extension

Source: Clarin

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