Counting Chicks Redefine Birdbrain

Study shows chickens can do basic math
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2009 11:35 AM CDT
Counting Chicks Redefine Birdbrain
Chickens are the only animals, besides humans, to demonstrate numerical abilities in their youth.   (Shutterstock)

No dumb clucks, young chickens appear capable of basic arithmetic, Discover reports. Scientists relied on two innate chick traits—an instinct to flock with the biggest group and an attachment to objects—to test the birds’ noggins. After hiding yellow balls of varying numbers behind screens, they released the chicks. The birds went immediately to the screen with the most balls.

The findings held true even when balls were moved around after the screens were in place, requiring the chicks to add and subtract. “Numerical understanding comprises a built-in system of unlearned knowledge,” a scientist concludes. Besides humans, chickens are the only other animals known to demonstrate numerical abilities in their youth. Primates and dogs gain such skills as adults. (More chicken stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.