New research suggests that black bears are surprisingly adept at performing numerical calculations.
When it comes to animals with advanced cognitive abilities bears are perhaps not the species you first think of. Surprisingly, black bears actually possess the largest relative brain size of any carnivore, a trait that has intrigued researchers and prompted several experiments aimed at determining the extent of their cognitive capabilities.
In one experiment, bears were shown two images with different numbers of dots. Touching one of the images would reward the animal with some food and provide it with an incentive to remember how many dots there were in the correct image. When the images were changed with different backgrounds and positions the bears were still able to recognize the correct one by counting the dots and identifying the image with the correct number.
The new research shows for the first time that "bears and other animals that have been neglected by cognitive scientists . . . may show abilities similar to species more like humans," study co-author Jennifer Vonk, a comparative psychologist at the University of Oakland in Rochester, Michigan, said by email.
View: Full article | Source: National Geographic
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