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Pigeons are smarter than we thought, according to new research.
The birds judge the abstract concepts of space and time in a similar way to humans, the first time a non-primate species has been shown to do so.
Pigeons - Region - Brain - Space - Time
Crucially, pigeons use a different region of the brain to process space and time, suggesting they evolved the ability separately to humans.
'In the same way we might need to estimate the arrival of our pizza delivery, or figure out if there is enough space for us to park our cars, it might be useful for a pigeon to estimate when it is lunchtime so it can get delicious breadcrumbs, or the size of a potential competitor,' study coauthor Dr Victor Navarro, a psychologist at the University of Iowa, told MailOnline.
Research - Evidence - Species - Birds - Reptiles
The research adds to growing evidence that that lower-order animal species such as birds, reptiles, and fish are capable of high-level, abstract decision-making.
'The cognitive prowess of birds is now deemed to be ever closer to that of both human and nonhuman primates,' said study lead author Professor Edward Wasserman.
Systems - Achievements - Term - Bird - Brain
'Those avian nervous systems are capable of far greater achievements than the pejorative term "bird brain" would suggest.'
During their study, the Iowa team showed pigeons a static, horizontal line on a computer screen.
Birds - Line - Length - Amount - Time
The birds had to judge the line's length or the amount of time it was visible to them.
Pigeons judged longer lines to also have longer duration and judged lines longer in duration to also be longer in length.
Pigeons - Area - Brain - Space - Time
This means pigeons use a single area of the brain to judge space and time, suggesting the abstract concepts are not processed separately, experts said.
Similar results have been found with humans and other primates.
Humans - Space - Time
Humans are able to perceive space and time even...
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