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These birds score as high as primates on a puzzling cognitive test: ScienceAlert

These birds score as high as primates on a puzzling cognitive test: ScienceAlert

Only some animals are known to be able to understand object permanence, which is the idea that something still exists even when it is out of sight.

Eastern hornbill (Anthracocerus albirostris) is one of the few with advanced understanding, a new study confirms. It's a clever skill that comes in handy when nesting females lock themselves out of sight in tree cavities, relying on their mates to bring them food.

To safely lay and care for their eggs, female Eastern hornbills line themselves in their shelter with bits of mud, feces, saliva, fruit, and bark. They leave only a narrow opening to deliver food to the males.

In order for any offspring inside to survive, male hornbills must understand that their mate is still there even when they can't see them.

“From an evolutionary perspective, the ability to represent animals and other objects when they are out of sight provides significant adaptive advantages in activities such as foraging and Avoid Predation,” National University of Singapore psychologists Ruitong Yao and Elias Garcia-Pellegrin Explanation in a new paper.

However, AAnd, apart from the nimble crows and the clever, impertinent parrots, no other birds have ever been known to have as much permanence of being as primates. While other bird species have been tested, they have only reached the fourth stage of the stage Six developmental stages It appears in human children.

To find out how advanced hornbills' body stabilization skills are, Yao and Garcia-Pellegrin tested six large-billed birds.

They have taught hornbills to indicate the location of a visible treat with a click. Next, the birds were taken through a series of challenges, which were tested for increasingly difficult levels of body permanence.

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In the fifth phase, the birds saw the reward placed under one cup, then moved to another cup. By pointing to the cup in which the dessert ended up, the birds demonstrated an understanding of visual displacement.

All six birds tested by the researchers were able to achieve this level of body survival, receiving the reward as a well-deserved reward.

But only three hornbills reached the sixth stage: invisible displacement. At this point, the birds could not see the treats moving from one cup to another. Instead, the reward was hidden under a small red box and then moved under a larger cup. When the red box was removed from the bottom of the cup and showed that it was empty, some birds discovered that the treat must have been left under the last cup, although they did not see this happen directly.

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“Understanding invisible displacement is more complex, involving the integration of different cognitive skills, including memory, spatial reasoning, and logical reasoning.” He writes Yao and Garcia-Pellegrin.

Interestingly, the three birds that did not pass the fifth stage of permanence had no reproductive experience. This may be a mere coincidence, as only six birds were tested, or it may indicate that more advanced levels of object permanence can be learned from the experience of feeding or receiving food from a mate.

“To our knowledge, the eastern hornbill is the first bird species outside its range The families of corvids and parrots display levels of object permanence similar to apes.” Yao and Garcia-Pellegrin Sure.

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The team's findings suggest that hornbills may be a neglected group of highly intelligent bird species. Further research is now required to find out whether this bird species has other cognitive abilities that also rival those of parrots and corvids.

This research was published in Biology letters.