Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weird & Wacky Research: Counting to four is as easy as a bee sees

i read this research which reportedly shows that bees can count to four.

RESEARCHERS have discovered that honey bees can count to four.

A researcher from the University of Queensland put five markers inside a tunnel and placed nectar in one of them, the ABC reports.

Honey bees placed in the tunnel flew to the marker with the food, and would still fly to the same marker stripe when the food was removed.

"We find that if you train them to the third stripe, they will look subsequently in the third stripe," researcher Mandyam Srinivasan said.

"If you train them to the fourth stripe, they will look in the fourth stripe and so on. But their ability to count seems to go only up to four. They can't count beyond four.

"The more we look at these creatures that have a brain the size of a sesame seed, the more astonished we are. They really have a lot of the capacities that we so-called higher human beings possess.

The research was carried out with Swedish researcher Marie Dacke.

And i don't get it ... on a number of different levels.

Firstly, what is the actual purpose of the research?

And, how does training them (using food, standard Pavlov approach) to fly to a certain number of strips show that they can count?

Maybe they decided that "four stripes" is far enough to fly to find food .. not that they can't count to five.

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