NOV 02, 2016 8:54 AM PDT

Lab Rats Proven Capable of Using Tools for Complex Tasks

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
MAR 22, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
MAR 22, 2020
The Evolutionary Origins of the Human Hand
An ancient fish fossil has given researchers new insight into how fish fins eventually evolved into human hands.
MAR 31, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAR 31, 2020
This Spider Goes Fishing for Food
Most spiders are land animals, but the fishing spider tends to spend most of its time dwelling on watery surfaces. Fishi ...
APR 05, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 05, 2020
This Bird Can Mimic Almost Any Sound Accurately
Birds of all kinds are renowned for their calls, songs, and relentless chirps. Some birds use their calls to communicate ...
APR 17, 2020
Health & Medicine
APR 17, 2020
A Brief History: The Search for the Perfect High
With cannabis coming in closely behind alcohol as the most widely used recreational drug in the United States, researche ...
APR 27, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 27, 2020
Minor Dental Work Helps This Turtle Eat Again
It seems like turtles are always hungry. Just the mere mention of food gets their heads bobbing, and don’t even ge ...
MAY 04, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 04, 2020
A Capuchin Monkey's Curiosity Can Sometimes Cloud its Judgement
Capuchin monkeys are highly intelligent animals, but they’re also rather curious. They’ve adapted to communi ...
Loading Comments...