Goats Excel at Learning and Remembering a Complex Tasks
Posted on March 29, 2014 Comments (1)
I like research showing animals using intelligence that seems advanced, for example: Crow Using a Sequence of Three Tools – Insightful Problem Solving in an Asian Elephant – Bird-brains smarter than your average ape – Tropical Lizards Can Solve Novel Problems and Remember the Solutions – Pigeon Solves Box and Banana Problem.
I also like open access science, and this has both: Goats excel at learning and remembering a highly novel cognitive task
The individual learning abilities and long-term memory of goats highlighted in our study suggest that domestication has not affected goat physical cognition. However, these cognitive abilities contrast with the apparent lack of social learning, suggesting that relatively intelligent species do not always preferentially learn socially. We propose that goat cognition, and maybe more generally ungulate cognition, is mainly driven by the need to forage efficiently in harsh environments and feed on plants that are difficult to access and to process, more than by the computational demands of sociality. Our results could also explain why goats are so successful at colonizing new environments.
The experiment was done with domesticated goats. I also learned this from the article, which I didn’t know before:
In total, 9/12 trained goats successfully learned the two-step task. This was done within 12.0 ± 1.4 trials (range = 8–22 trials; corresponding to 4.33 ± 0.54 days of training for the entire learning phase, range = 3–6 days; Table 1). Among these successful goats, the number of trials required to learn the task did not differ between goats that had a demonstrator (two observers: 11.5 ± 1.5 trials) and those that did not (four demonstrators and three controls: 12.1 ± 1.8 trials; linear model (LM): F1,1 = 0.96; P = 0.51), suggesting that goats did not learn the task socially.