(ORDO NEWS) — These animals are probably smarter than anticipated. At the very least, they have demonstrated cognitive abilities that may not be that far from the level of non-anthropoid primates. And although they are inferior to any monkey in agility, scientists from the United States have shown that pigs are capable of playing a primitive computer game.
The work was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Scientists have long begun to pay attention to the cognitive abilities of pigs and have found that they are capable of learning. For example, these animals can understand commands “to me” or “sit”, just like dogs. Pigs have also been shown to be able to use mirrors to find hidden food. And observations at the zoo at the Botanical Gardens in Paris even showed that the Visayan warty pigs (Sus cebifrons) use tools – sticks and tree bark – to dig holes for nests in which piglets are raised.
A new study by scientists from Purdue University (USA) involved four Yorkshire and Panepinto pigs who were taught to play a simple computer game. To do this, the animals poked their faces at the joysticks set in front of them. The aim of the game was to move the cursor with the joystick so that it was near four different walls on the screen.
The researchers found that all the pigs did their job, and this went beyond chance. That is, the animals understood that the movement of the joystick is associated with the cursor on the screen. The pigs were given a treat for doing the right thing, but when the food dispensing machine was not working, the animals still performed well. Scientists attribute this to the fact that social contacts had a stronger effect on the motivation of pigs than food. True, when it came to more difficult tasks, the animals still needed a reward.
Of course, pigs did not reach the level of inhuman primates. But scientists explain this, perhaps, not so much by the low intelligence of these animals, as by the lack of agility of primates, which, for obvious reasons, pigs do not have (after all, they have hooves and a piglet, not a palm).
In addition, primates are more oriented towards sight, while pigs are more oriented towards scent. Therefore, for a more accurate measurement of the cognitive abilities of pigs, tests are needed that are designed specifically for them, and not for the primates, which were used in the experiment. After that, the researchers believe, pigs will still show themselves in all their intellectual glory.
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