Self-Doubting Monkeys & Really Clever Sheep, Who Knew?!


photo: Andrew Dyson/Creative Commons

Two quick bits about how our non-human animal cousins are far more like us intellectually and emotionally than we give them credit for.

1) Old-world monkeys are apparently aware of their own thinking, what they know and what they don't know. Macaques were trained to play video games in which they judged the density of a box appearing on screen as being either dense of sparse. If they picked the correct option they received a treat and the game continued. If they picked the wrong answer the game paused. The monkeys could also pass, which resulted in no treat but also no pause, and therefore an immediate opportunity for a chance at another treat.

The scientists saw that the macaques used this option in exactly the same way as human participants who reported that they found a trial too tricky to answer; they chose to "pass" and move on.

Noteworthy: New-world monkeys, such as capuchins, did not choose to pass.

Read more: Monkeys 'display self-doubt' like humans

2) Studies on Welsh sheep carried out by scientist at the University of Cambridge have found them to "have the brainpower equal to rodents, monkeys and, in some tests, even humans" and were able to map their surroundings and perhaps plan ahead.

Our tests showed that [the sheep] can do what is known as executive decision making. We looked at whether they were able to understand rules and got them to do what is known as a choice discrimination task. But when we changed the rules, they behaved pretty much as a human in that they got bothered about us changing those rules.

Read more: Study shows Welsh sheep 'more clever than thought'
More on Animal's Intelligence:
Chimpanzees Even Smarter Than We Thought - Can Mentally Measure Pouring Liquid's Volume
If Octopuses Are Self-Aware Are You Less Likely To Eat Them?

Tags: Animal Rights | Animals