NOV 02, 2016 08:54 AM PDT

Lab Rats Proven Capable of Using Tools for Complex Tasks

Scientists are seeing it now more than ever before: animals of all kinds of different species are being observed using tools of some kind to perform tasks.
 
Observed first in birds, and even in chimpanzees, the behavior, which has typically been associated with elevated intelligence, has now been observed in lab rats by researchers from Doshisha University in Kyotanabe, Japan. Their findings appear in the journal Animal Cognition.
 

Even the humble rat appears to be smart enough to use tools to perform complex tasks.
 

The rats were tasked with getting to some delicious food and needed to be trained to use tools to get to it. The food was placed in such a way that they would need to use some sort of a tool to reach it, so no cheating would be possible.
 
Lo and behold, the training paid off. The crafty little animals went right ahead and picked up the nearest hook-like tool they could find and started hooking away at the goods.
 
The researchers even tried to fool the rats a little bit by placing two tools in their reach. One of them was an effective tool that was made strong enough to move the snack, while the other was too flimsy and wouldn’t work for the job.
 
In time, all of the rats were choosing the effective tool almost all of the time, suggesting they’re intelligent enough to remember which tool worked and which tool did not.
 
In some cases, the rats may have selected the poorer tool choice based solely on poor eyesight, so the margin of error that was observed may not have had anything to do with intelligence at all.
 
As we continue to see more and more animal species utilizing tools for various tasks, we must re-think animal intelligence and the longstanding idea that animals aren’t capable of complex thought.
 
Source: New Scientist

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 16, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 16, 2019
A Plant Gene can Help Fight Climate Change
Plants use their roots to collect essential nutrients. We may one day be able to use those roots to store carbon underground....
SEP 16, 2019
Earth & The Environment
SEP 16, 2019
What's Really Killing Coral Reefs?
A variety of environmental stressors threaten the world's coral reefs, most notably increases in water temperature due to climate change. Changes...
SEP 16, 2019
Technology
SEP 16, 2019
Can Robots Land Like Birds?
Below the gaze of high-speed cameras, a tiny bird named Gary is awaiting the signal to fly over to a perch covered in Teflon. The successful land of Gary o...
SEP 16, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 16, 2019
Some People Get Bitten By Mosquitoes More Than Others, and Here's Why
If you’ve ever felt like you were a mosquito magnet, then there might be some truth to that sentiment. But despite popular belief, mosquitoes do not...
SEP 16, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 16, 2019
Fish With 'Specialist' Diets Face Severe Survival Challenges
Animals can be categorized as having one of two types of diets, including ‘specialists,’ which eat only specific kinds of prey, and ‘gene...
SEP 16, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 16, 2019
Giraffe Conservation Gets More Serious as Species Gains New Protections
One of the world’s most distinguishable long-necked animals, the giraffe, appears to be headed for a troubling future in the eyes of animal conservat...
Loading Comments...