Intelligent animals: pigeons, camels, goats and marmosets

Can a pigeon compare to  artificial intelligence in its ability to acquire knowledge? According to researchers at the University of Iowa, these birds use associative learning as much as the most advanced AI technologies. The researchers subjected the pigeons to complex categorisation tests, where logical thinking and reasoning are insufficient to solve a task. Instead, the pigeons, through an exhaustive trial-and-error method, remembered enough scenarios in the test to achieve 68% accuracy in solving the tasks.

In contrast,  the study conducted by experts from the University of Barcelona involved 111 zoo-dwelling animals from 13 ungulate species with different lifestyles, social structures and diets. The animals’ task was to get to their favourite food hidden in a cup with a lid. Dromedaries and goats, especially the outsiders in the herd, reacted best to the unknown and got the snack out of the cup. Animals of lower social standing were less fearful of new objects, more willing to explore the unknown, and more likely to obtain a reward.

“Le Tourniquet” is trick magicians use whereby a small object like a coin or a ball disappears in their hand. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have shown that capuchins and saimiri – like humans, have opposable thumbs – are fooled by this trick. Marmosets,  which do not have opposable thumbs and were rarely tricked by the magician, also participated in the experiment.

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