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Still Waters

Why animals recognise numbers but only humans can do maths

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Still Waters

Counting feels utterly effortless to adults, who are unlikely to even remember when or how they picked up this useful, apparently automatic skill. Yet when you think about it, counting is a remarkable invention. It helped early humans to trade, apportion food and organise fledgling civilisations, laying the foundations for life as we know it today.

But a sensitivity for numbers isn’t uniquely human. Tiny guppies and honeybees as well as hyenas and dogs have been found to perceive and act on numerical stimuli. So responding to numbers is an evolved trait we seem to share with some animals, as well as a skill we’re taught in some of our first lessons.

As a researcher in numerical cognition, I’m interested in how brains process numbers. Humans and animals actually share some remarkable numerical abilities – helping them make smart decisions about where to feed and where to take shelter. But as soon as language enters the picture, humans begin outperforming animals, revealing how words and digits underpin our advanced mathematical world.

https://theconversation.com/why-animals-recognise-numbers-but-only-humans-can-do-maths-165121

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jethrofloyd

Give the chimp peanuts, and he will do math!  :)

 

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