New research shows a chicken is smarter than a toddler
A team of researchers have uncovered some extraordinary findings about chickens and how within hours of hatching they show signs of intelligence that means they are able to master numeracy and basic engineering. It takes children to reach the age of 5 before they are able to achieve similar results.
The studies show that hens are able to master a number of skills including numeracy, self control and basic structural engineering.
Reviewing the study, Christine Nicole from the University of Bristol for animal welfare said that it is wrong to think of chickens as being stupid. They actually have many hidden values that we were until recently, unaware of. It is all part of a paper that was written by Professor Nicole called The Intelligent Hen and takes in over 20 years of her experience.
Within just a few hours, chicks are able to keep track of numbers up to five.
When they are given a choice between two groups of plastic eggs then they are likely to choose the bigger eggs. The researchers would then trick the chicks and swap the eggs around. The chicks would not fall for this and still choose the bigger pile.
Chicks are also born with an understanding of physics with a beginning of structural engineering. They were shown to diagrams of objects; one that could be built and another that defied the laws of physics. They choose the one that could be built.
A key difference into the intelligence of human babies and chicks was shown by a simple experiment. Chicks understand that an object that moves of sight still exists. It takes babies around a year to understand this concept before they realise that the object still exists.
There are also claims that they can uphold self control in a series of experiments.
Chicks are, at just two weeks old, able to navigate using the sun. This means that they have to be able to take account of the height and position of the sun during the day.
In summing up on the paper Professor Nicole said that ‘Chickens may not be about to make a significant mathematical, scientific or literary contribution to the world, but chickens have the capacity to master skills and develop abilities that a human child can take months and years to accomplish.
‘It takes a chick just a few hours to develop its representational and numerical abilities in comparison to the months and years it takes a human child to do anything comparable.
‘On the other hand, we shouldn’t go too far. No chicken has yet written a review of human intelligence.’
Photo: Steven L Johnson