Who Knew Animals Could Be So Smart?
Article by: Ben Brumfield
Published: June 10, 2015
“ Crows can count, and chimps know when they have nailed a test, according to two new studies that say our animal friends may be smarter than we once thought”, quotes Ben Brumfield who explains how smart our animal friends just may be. You might have heard myths about these crazy things before, but they are not myths, they are actually true! Universities from Georgia, New York, and South Carolina did the test on chimps. How did they do it? They gave three chimps computerized tests and gave them food when they got the questions correct. The scientists built in hitches to tease out signs of metacognition. Metacognition is the awareness or understanding of someone’s thought process. When the chimp got the answer correct, a delayed alarm would go off saying that they got it right, and the chimp had to then run to another station to get it’s food before it disappeared. After getting used to the testing format the chimps started to be able to accurately predict if their answer was correct or incorrect. If a chimp thought that their answer was correct, it would consistently race off to the next station to collect its’ food before the delayed alarm. When the chimp thought that its’ answer was incorrect, it did not move and go to collect the food. It just stayed in it’s starting spot. Both humans and chimps have metacognition, but the researchers say that we have different reactions to it. Because of this special part of their brains, they are able to do these this amazing thinking! The article also explained another study involving crows that showed similar results, that animals are smarter than we once thought. Researchers from a University in Germany did a test that showed that crows can count! They tested crows to see if they could recognize a group of dots. When researchers changed the size or arrangement of the dots the crows still figured out the number. The researchers observed parts of the crow’s brain and saw that the bird only recognizes the number of things, not the changes in arrangement, size, or shape. A neuroscientist named Helen Ditz said "When a crow sees three points, seeds or even hunters, single nerve cells recognize the 'threeness' of the objects.” These studies are helpful and useful to scientists because it provides them information about how animals think, which allows them to better understand animals and their behavior.
I chose this article because I think that learning about animals is fascinating. This article allowed me to add to my knowledge about animals. As I was browsing through the different events on the CNN website, the gorilla in the picture instantly caught my eye. As I read the headline “ Animals may be smarter than we once thought” I knew this was the one. Throughout my research of this article I learned that scientists are still discovering new information about how animals think. I also learned that chimps and humans both have metacognition.
I am hopeful that this article connects to our upcoming unit on the human body. The article compared metacognition in animals and how it compared to metacognition in humans. This article makes me want to learn more about metacognition.
The findings in this research most affect animal scientists. The research gives them more information about animals. This information will help them with further their understanding about the brain functions of animals. After reading about this intriguing research I instantly came up with a question. I wonder, if chimps and crows can do these incredible things, is it possible for other animals to perform such tasks as well? I also wonder if there have been studies conducted on other animals around metacognition. Perhaps they chose the chimps because they are a close relative to humans. I hope to find the answers to my questions soon!
Kyoto University in Japan also performed this test. Below is an image of their testing chimp, named Ayumu. He is taking the computerized memory test.
I found this image on…http://www.voanews.com/content/chimpanzee_minds_are_like_humans_better_in_some_ways/1604796.html