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The brainpower of bumble bees has been grossly underestimated, according to scientists who have taught them how to “play soccer.”

In a series of experiments, bees were taught to roll a ball into a “goal”, in order to be rewarded with a sugar water solution. This proves, according to researchers that “many species have the capacity to envision how a particular object might be used to achieve an end.” The results were published in the journal Science, by a team at the Queen Mary University of London’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

The researchers were impressed by the bees’ cognitive complexity and intellectual flexibility when they were presented with three balls and chose to go for the one closest to the goal, or when they were instructed to move a different colored ball to be rewarded with sugar solution.

This ability to learn new behaviors if needed is potentially promising news for the future of other species and hints that, “entirely novel behaviors could emerge relatively swiftly in species whose lifestyle demands advanced learning abilities, should relevant ecological pressures arise,” says the study.

Alexandra Bruce

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Alexandra Bruce

Alexandra Bruce

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  • How to go about achieving the pleasures life can offer, it’s logic, bee’s have it, not to sure how many others (humans) do any more. We are taught with the hive mentality, the best for the group, not the individual, yes, we need to think outside the box that contains us,… etc.

  • Scientific evidence seems to show more and more that cognitive function does not happen only within grey matter. ie: Our minds are more than just matter. Catch up, world, catch up.

    • Yes, I was going to launch into a tangent about how recent studies show that consciousness is not located in the brain. But consciousness isn’t intelligence, per se.

      The prevailing “wisdom” in biology is that intelligence is reflected by brain size (a 19th century argument for male superiority over females). By the same standard, elephants and whales are all of superior intelligence to humans and this is probable but clearly, it’s a different kind of intelligence.

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