Pigeons Ace Math Tests
Perform as well as monkeys at abstract number quiz
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Dec 23, 2011 6:56 AM CST
These guys can do higher math.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Don't let those blank stares fool you: Pigeons, it seems, are the math nerds of the bird world. Researchers found that the creatures can do more than count—they can handle numbers in the abstract sense, an ability never before seen outside primates, the New York Times reports. Pigeons were able to perform as well as rhesus monkeys when tasked with putting numbers in order from low to high.

Scientists trained the birds over a year to peck images showing quantities of one, two, and three in size order. The next step for the birds, as for the rhesus monkeys, was to use their skills with the lower numbers to peck higher numbers in the correct order. Shown quantities of six and nine, they were able to do so. "I was surprised," said a researcher. The study suggests that either the birds and the monkeys have a 300-million-year-old common ancestor, or they evolved counting abilities separately.

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Showing 3 of 10 comments
Dec 25, 2011 7:52 AM CST
Now if we could get them to work for the Obama math-challenged budget committee, we may have something. BONUS! They could poop on Choo Choo Joe's head - no more need of Dr. Bosley!
Dec 23, 2011 11:15 AM CST
Yeah but just try to get them to do your tax return right.
Dec 23, 2011 10:20 AM CST
Now..... if they could only toilet train them