Counting monkeys, fish, birds, and insects: Yes, they can!

Studies show others in the animal kingdom may be good at counting to find more friends, more mates, or more food.
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Jul 24, 2009
By dvm360.com staff

A variety of animals may be capable of counting, according to a recent story in New Scientist. Past and new research explores the possible evolutionary benefits of counting in species as small as honeybees. The story considers many studies:

> Rhesus monkeys chose sets with more geometric shapes just about as often as college students.

> Red-backed salamanders that headed for tubes with more flies.

> Mosquitofish that sought out groups with more potential mates.

> Honeybees that picked paths labeled with more geometric shapes that led them to sugar.

> American coot chicks that opted for larger groups of objects representing strength in numbers, rather than less.

Most of the studies found animals did a better job of judging the difference between numbers of smaller amounts (one vs. two, two vs. three) and when the difference was larger (eight vs. 16, 10 vs. 20).

The studies appeared in the publications Current Opinion in Neurobiology and Animal Cognition.