Pigeons. The feathered our fellow citizens are able to recognize their own image in the mirror with just 5-7 seconds of delay, a skill similar to that shown by a 3 year old child. Other studies have shown that they are able to discriminate between different objects and to learn the abstract rules on numbers (for example, that two is greater than one), a skill that was thought to be the prerogative of primates.
Pigs. Their reputation as dirty animals is likely to obscure considerable cognitive skills. Not only do pigs quickly memorize the location and amount of food available; they can understand if another pig has found it, follow it to take advantage of it, notice if they are followed in turn and make them lose their tracks to eat undisturbed. Moreover, they know how to make a wise use of mirrors: it is not clear if they recognize their own image, but they manage to exploit the reflection of mirrors positioned in the styes to better orientate themselves in the surrounding environment.
Red fishes. Not only is it not true that they have the ability to hold back the memories of 3 seconds (a commonplace that has been denied). Goldfish could even teach information to their peers. In experiment, goldfish capable of recognizing predators because they grew up in freedom, have shown that they know how to transmit their experience to fish born and lived in captivity: the fish show to learn more easily, if they can follow the example of their own kind. Other tests have shown that they can build mind maps to reach familiar places. Other historical animal lies
Sheep. It would be time to stop defining "pecoroni" those who are unable to choose, and prefer to follow the mass. An experiment carried out by the University of Cambridge showed that sheep have learning and adaptability skills comparable to those of rodents, primates and - in some cases - human ones. They would also be able to plan activities in advance and build mental maps of the surroundings.
Placed in front of buckets of different colors, empty or containing food, sheep have been shown to be able to learn what color was associated with the presence of food with the same rapidity of monkeys and humans. In an even more difficult test, they learned to associate the shape of a container with the presence of food with the same speed as a "slow" monkey (and faster than mice and rats). Other research wants them to be able to distinguish human facial expressions.
Chickens. Even the intelligence of another commonly bred animal deserves to be re-evaluated. Chickens have a more articulated communication system than one might think. In an experiment published in Biology Letters, some chickens were made to listen to the recall of the food recorded by a similar one. The birds reacted not with a simple "hurray", but with specific references that conveyed the information "new food", and interested only the not yet satisfied birds. A more specific reminder is reserved for the most appreciated foods (such as maize): a representative function of language never observed before (it was 2006) in other non-primates. Other experiments have shown that chickens can count from left to right.
Octopus. We have already had the opportunity to write several times about the intelligence of octopuses. Among the most surprising demonstrations of their skill in the use of tools is the ability to recover coconuts or bivalves now empty from the seabed and to transport and assemble them to obtain a shelter. Some octopuses from aquariums and zoos have learned to grab objects from the tank and throw them at the glass or against the lamps, causing short circuits. Other experiments would seem to show that they have a preference for a given tentacle - just as man is right-handed or left-handed - and that they do not simply use the limb closest to their purpose.
Spiders. To build cobwebs like these, which have completely enveloped the trees of a Pakistani village four years ago, they need truly remarkable social skills and cooperation skills. And if the thought of millions of spiders that act in a coordinated way does not disturb you enough, you will perhaps be pleased to know that some, like Portia labiata, a kind of jumping spider, are able to learn from their mistakes. Faced with a wall of water to cross, the animal had to choose whether to swim or jump. During some crossings, researchers created waves on the water. The next few times, the spider has preferred to sail without getting wet. Did you know that spiders can navigate?
Snakes. Long considered clumsy and with poor cognitive abilities, snakes show surprising ability to learn when it comes to finding an escape route. Scientists at the University of Rochester (New York) have placed 24 wheat snakes (Elaphe guttata guttata) in a black plastic tank, strewn with tactile and visual cues on how to find the way out. After only one successful escape attempt, the reptiles showed they had learned the way to freedom and knew how to orient themselves without problems. Older people have achieved better performances than young people: experience counts, even when they crawl.
Raccoons. The "bandit" mask of raccoons hides an intelligence superior to what was believed. Popular laboratory animals in the 1900s, these mammals regained their freedom at the sound of epic escapes from cages and through ventilation ducts. In a famous experiment of 1913, some raccoons, dogs, rats and children had to memorize the position of one of three bulbs that were periodically lit (and associated with a reward in food). The raccoons, together with the children, were the only animals that did not need to constantly fix the lighted bulb to remember their position.
Crows. They know how to build tools to feed themselves, hide them safely and then find them again, and solve complex problems with a skill greater than that of 4-year-old children. But according to some, the crows also show that they possess the "theory of the mind", that is the ability to represent and understand the thought processes of their peers. If put in a position to hide food in the presence of another bird, in most cases they will then want to hide it again and in another place, as if they feared being robbed.