Counting Chickens


chickWatch out — those cute little chicks will know if you’ve eaten one of their chocolate eggs.

At least, that’s the word according to the folk in Italy at the Universities of Padova and Trento.  They did experiments and found that newly hatched chicks can tell More versus Less:

In tests the chicks were shown a set of objects, in this case identical small balls, in groups of either two or three.

In one of the experiments the chicks choose consistently to walk towards a group of three balls rather than a group of two.

You can sort of see a video here, although the video doesn’t seem to show actual experiments:

The one aspect that bothers me a little is this:

When the ball were hidden behind a screen, but one of the balls could be seen being passed from the larger group to the smaller one, the chicks were still able to identify which group now contained three objects.

It wasn’t clear from my source (The Telegraph) if they ever moved one from a group of, say, 4 to a group of 1 so that the group that received the ball was still the smaller group.  In other words, maybe the chicks just were following the action.  (But it seems possible according to the BBC news article that the researchers took that into account — I can only access the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society. B where this was published for articles that are at least a year old, so I can’t verify it.)

There’s no word yet on whether the Easter Bunny has these same addition skills.

Chick photo by Fir0002 [cropped and flipped], published under GNU-FDL.

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