Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pigeons Are Smarter Than a Three-Year Old

Pigeons: Smarter than a three-year-old

USA Today

News from Japan that may make parents scramble for their Baby Mozart CDs.

Scientists there have shown pigeons are better at self-recognition than three-year-old children. The birds can also tell a Van Gogh from a Chagall.

Prof. Shigeru Watanabe of Keio University and a grad student found the pigeons were good at identifying their own mug in a video image. The birds could distinguish between video self-images that showed their movements vs. video images that didn't show their movements. That was even with a 5-7 second delay in the video.

The average three-year-old child has trouble recognizing their self-image with just a two-second delay.

We know self-recognition isn't uniquely human. Chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants also have the ability. The pigeon finding suggests an animal doesn't need a large brain to know its own image.

And sorry, kids -- this self-recognition thing? It's for the birds.

By Jess Zielinski

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