Pigeon is Actually Good at Math

Who ya callin' birdbrained? Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that the lowly pigeon is actually quite brilliant at math:

Scarf and her colleagues began their search for mathematical ability in pigeons by training subject birds to recognize groups of one, two or three objects on a screen and peck at them in proper numerical sequence. This, admittedly, was not an easy lesson to get across. It took about a year of practice and rewards before the pigeons could be said with certainty to have gotten the idea. The birds may have actually understood earlier, but the researchers had to make sure they were indeed responding to the number of items, as opposed to their color, shape or relative size. As a result the pigeons had to be trained with random selections of ovals, triangles, rectangles and even computer clip art before it was clear they had their counting skills down cold.

Link (Photo: William van der Vliet)


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"It took about a year of practice and rewards before the pigeons could be said with certainty to have gotten the idea."

Maybe they simply didn't care about the researchers' crappy project.
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