Pigeons: Smarter Than You Think (Or Care To Admit)

12.29.11 Bucky Turco

According to new study, pigeons just moved up the food chain with new data suggesting they can count. Tests conducted on the lowbrow birds at University of Otago in New Zealand proved that their math abilities were on par with monkeys, a trait most smart-people-types assumed was exclusive to primates.

Lead researcher and comparative psychologist Damian Scarf said it wasn’t easy to get the project off the ground as it took about a year just to get them to “recognize groups of one, two or three objects on a screen and peck at them in proper numerical sequence,” reports Time magazine.

He originally tried to perform the experiment with chickens, but that didn’t work out too well. “I actually started with chickens. I was trying to compare them with some previous work on how pigeons learned to use touch screens to access food. But it was hopeless. Chickens are totally impulsive, they just peck at anything,” wrote Scarf in an email to the Science Media Centre.

Although I’m not exactly sure what this all means in the bigger scheme of things, as someone who couldn’t pass Sequential Math II, I find it very fascinating nonetheless. (Photo: William van der Vliet)