It has been found that little duckling have the capacity to think for themselves. They possess the ability for abstract thought, much to the surprise of the scientists.
The brains of some intelligent animals have the ability for abstract thought. They can differentiate between likeness and contrast. Yet this is a rarity among animal species.
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However, the cutest of adorable little ducklings have been found to possess this ability in scads. They may have been thought to be nothing but a “bird brain” species up until now, yet that is hardly the case. Newly-hatched ducklings can differentiate between sameness and variation in a matter of seconds.
The really strange thing is that the ducklings have this power without any previous training. They seem to instinctually possess the power to differentiate between the same and the different.
The logical links between various objects in the environment, a retention of this savvy and its application to new conditions is what they show on a consistent basis.
This acumen is termed relational concept learning. This ability had been thought to be a strictly human phenomenon. Yet now we know better. Many other species have the ability to demonstrate it when required by circumstances.
Working with ducklings, researchers managed to give behavioral tests to these fuzzy wuzzy creatures. The social acid test of imprinting was sought for in this quest by the scientists.
This thing called imprinting is the first act a newly hatched animal undergoes in order to bond with its parents. The test involved objects that were shown to the newly hatched mallards.
They were either the same as the hatchlings or different from them. The ducklings showed a tendency to follow those pairs of objects that bore an uncanny likeness to them.
Thus this experiment shows that imprinting, which is the most basic of instincts, demonstrates a few higher abstract thought processes at work within its context.
This basic instinct comes in handy in the wilderness where it is crucial for the newly hatched ducklings to identify their parents (especially the mother duck).
The baby ducks even use this special sense to bond with their siblings. It is indeed a family thing. This study is seminal in its significance. For one thing, it shows that animals have the capacity for abstract thought.
Secondly, even the young newly hatched species have this ability. Last but not least, this sort of intelligence does not need reinforcement from outside, meaning that it is an innate and inborn trait.
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This study got published in the journal Science today.