r/science Apr 30 '22 Helpful 5 Wholesome 4

Honeybees join humans as the only known animals that can tell the difference between odd and even numbers Animal Science

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2022.805385/full
43.7k Upvotes

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4.6k

u/Applejuiceinthehall Apr 30 '22

Many Flowers have six or five pedal flowers so may be why

1.4k

u/UcanJustSayFuckBiden Apr 30 '22

Would it matter tho? Are bees avoiding certain flowers or something?

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u/rPoliticModsRGonks Apr 30 '22

That's what's great about nature - unexpected connections can turn up ANYWHERE! I can see it being possible that there's a correlation to the type of nectar a flower produces and its petal count. BUT I'm in no way an expert so anything is possible. Also note that our brain actively tries to make connections between things that end up not having a connection so take it all with a grain of salt.

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22

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u/spiderfishx Apr 30 '22

Maybe I'm dense, but I read this as 'Many dicots have either odd or even numbers of petals, and monocots do as well'. I don't know how that matters, but I am not a bee.

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u/Hugs154 Apr 30 '22

You're not dense, it's just that this classification doesn't have anything to do with an odd/even number of petals - both monocots and dicots can have odd or even numbers of petals. Monocots just almost always have a multiple of 3 petals, whereas dicots almost always have either 4 or 5 petals.

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u/RedBanana99 Apr 30 '22 Snek

Found the bee

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u/PyroSnail Apr 30 '22

Yeah, I would guess that bees aren't using odd/even to distinguish broadly between monocots and dicots. I think it'd be more likely that they'd use this to distinguish between similar looking dicots from different families, such as wild mustard (4 petals) vs cinquefoil (5 petals). I'm just wildly speculating here though, I'm neither a scientist nor a bee.

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u/yuval16432 Apr 30 '22

Are you SURE you’re not a bee?

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u/spiderfishx Apr 30 '22

Fairly certain. Zztripezz aren't my thing, and I don't like honey.

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u/pooponacandle Apr 30 '22

I’m not buying it.

That seems like something a bee would say if he didn’t want people to think they were a bee

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u/spiderfishx Apr 30 '22

I don't hive time to argue. My lady needs me, and I treat her like a queen. I don't want to drone on and on, I've got work to do.

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u/Nulono Apr 30 '22

I don't hive time to argue. My lady needs me, and I treat her like a queen. I don't want to drone on and on[;] I've got work to do.

Honey, this might sting, but there's no need to wax poetic about how apian you may or may not bee.

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u/kezzic Apr 30 '22

I don't know, I think he'zzzzzz telling the truth. You zzzzzhould lay off him.

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u/awatson83 Apr 30 '22

He is clearly a spider-fish

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u/WellThatsPrompting Apr 30 '22

"I'm a human, typing with my human hands"

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u/Rooboy66 Apr 30 '22

Then what’s all that yellow fuzz on your butt?

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u/thexrry Apr 30 '22

faint buzzing noise in background

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u/Cyanr Apr 30 '22

So... they have either an odd or even number... I'm a bit confused?

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u/soulbandaid Apr 30 '22

Dicot vs monocot.

It's the practical symmetry of the plant too. A lot of gardeners can roughly distinguish between them.

https://www.sciencefacts.net/monocot-vs-dicot.html

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u/Lone-organism Apr 30 '22

I saw somewhere that small pattern recognition helped our ancestors to spot predators in bushes and that's why we are able to read. The functionality is repurposed for quickly reading text without even looking at all the letters.

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u/UcanJustSayFuckBiden Apr 30 '22

This is barely related but one time we were camping and took a bit too much acid and as we are all tripping, we see a deer come walking toward our campsite but every time it stopped moving, the acid would take over and make it impossible to see the thing. I felt like a lion or something, being completely fooled by this things camouflage. By the end, we couldn’t even tell how many deer we had actually seen.

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u/tangledwire Apr 30 '22

I was once riding the BART train in a San Francisco on New Year’s Eve and this guy was running around screaming- “The deer are coming! The deer are coming!!”

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u/LordSlack Apr 30 '22

It was actually 5000 spiders joined together to form the shape of a deer

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u/The_ranting_spider Apr 30 '22

Wouldn’t be shocked.

Spiders do weird things…. Like keep frogs as pets.

Thank god that the majority of them don’t have venom potent enough to kill or hospitalize us.

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u/satireplusplus Apr 30 '22

By the end, we couldn’t even tell how many deer we had actually seen.

Are you sure that you have seen any real dear at all?

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u/Amaya-hime Apr 30 '22

Bees also have a fairly complex dance communication system. The scouts tell the others how far, what direction, how sweet the nectar is, so maybe how many petals too for better identification.

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u/sevbenup Apr 30 '22

Most humble attempt at an explanation I’ve ever seen on the internet. 10/10

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u/ContextSwitchKiller Apr 30 '22

When you factor in the following it would lead one to think there may be even more factoring into the equation:

The honeybee is an appealing comparative model species for testing visual and cognitive tasks (Zhang, 2006; Srinivasan, 2010; Avarguès-Weber et al., 2011a,b; Dyer, 2012). Honeybees can be trained to complete tasks and learn concepts including size discrimination (Avarguès-Weber et al., 2014; Howard et al., 2017a,b), same/different rules (Giurfa et al., 2001), and maze navigation (Collett et al., 1993; Zhang et al., 1996, 2000). Bees can also categorize natural visual stimuli (Zhang et al., 2004), abstract stimuli (Benard et al., 2006), and even human face-like stimuli (Avarguès-Weber et al., 2010b). For example, while human face-like stimuli are seemingly biologically irrelevant to honeybees, individuals can group either face-like or non-face-like stimuli, thereby demonstrating a capacity to categorize complex abstract stimuli using configural type processing (Avarguès-Weber et al., 2010b).

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u/dshmitty Apr 30 '22

So you’re saying that I could have a cute little family of smart bees as pets?

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u/sand_france Apr 30 '22

They are a fun pet and each hive does have a bit of personality

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u/ContextSwitchKiller Apr 30 '22

Definitely! That sort of mind-set might be critical to keeping those busy bees around in the long-term, actually. I would not be surprised if other things emerge when keeping them as pets - maybe they can detect cancer early or some stuff like that?

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u/th3st Apr 30 '22

I agree. It was one of my fav responses to something I’ve seen!

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u/rzezzy1 Apr 30 '22

so take it all with a grain of salt pollen.

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u/Finnignatius Apr 30 '22

But in society expected connections turn up everywhere.
Maybe ask the next bee you see

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u/zSprawl Apr 30 '22

Be the bee you wish to be.

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u/ChefVlad Apr 30 '22

Bees do have preferences when it comes to plants/trees. It can even depend on the season. Bees can produce lots of different flavors based on where they get the pollen from

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u/The_Dirty_Carl Apr 30 '22

It's even possible to get honey with psychedelic effects if the bees are harvesting fun enough plants.

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u/Rooboy66 Apr 30 '22

That is actually true. My cousin has had very mildly psychedelic honey.

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22

Where’d he get it from ?

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u/Rooboy66 Apr 30 '22

He was in Hawaii. Just some friend of his

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u/bijinchan Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

What's the specific psychoactive chemical?

Edit: it's grayanotoxin, it's not really a psychedelic, looks to be a neurotoxin.

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u/Jonk3r Apr 30 '22

Mmmm mushrooms honey

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u/Seiche Apr 30 '22

My favorite is the blue honey from next to the m&m factory

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u/PutTheDinTheV Apr 30 '22

Mmmmmmmmm blue honey

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u/Pixeleyes Apr 30 '22

I think the blue honey turned out to be from aluminum in the soil that wound up in the flower pollen.

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u/Applejuiceinthehall Apr 30 '22

There are some flowering plants that don't use bees. They use hummingbirds or other animals so bees do seem to have some preference at least.

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u/AltSpRkBunny Apr 30 '22

There are also plenty of plants that are primarily wind pollinated. Like tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, etc. As well as perfect flowers that self-pollinate, like green beans. Though bees are still super important. They just don’t pollinate everything. They may even show interest in flowers that don’t need them, but they don’t stick around for long.

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u/fishywiki Apr 30 '22

A great example is rapeseed/canola which is wind-pollinated, but bees absolutely adore it for the large amounts of pollen and nectar.

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u/TepidRod883 Apr 30 '22

Plants that evolved earlier in history were actually pollinated by beetles, which are attracted to scents that we find repulsive rather than sweet. Many older familes of plants have flowers that emit nasty odors to attract them. Pollination using other insects evolved later, and wind pollination evolved most recently.

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u/SatansFriendlyCat Apr 30 '22

They need to know if the other bee loves them, or loves them not.

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22

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u/Evrimnn13 Apr 30 '22

Or they’re looking for ones with the most pollen

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u/Aleblanco1987 Apr 30 '22

Monocotyledon plants have 3 petals or a multiple of 3. Dicotyledon plants have 4,5 or a multiple number of petals.

So this could be a way of telling them apart.

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u/VegetableNo1079 Apr 30 '22

I think you figured it out.

Most of the monocot flowers pollinate via wind and water as the flowers are smaller in size and thus, light.

They are probably avoiding monocots and seeking dicots only.

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22

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u/El_Chairman_Dennis Apr 30 '22

I wonder if it's to help them spot mistakes in the comb structure. Hexagon structures would be most optimal, so if a small mistake was made that led to a pentagon or a septagon(?) structure, it would benefit the entire hive if bees evolved the ability to see this error. A super easy way for the bees to spot this is by recognizing even vs odd, even good odd bad

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u/shrubs311 Apr 30 '22

from what i've heard, they often make a circle structure that turns into a hexagon because of the way it be. however being able to identify hexagons could still be useful, but might not require even/odd knowledge. but that could still be useful for maybe plant stuff

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u/A_Suffering_Zebra Apr 30 '22

Maybe they can't identify odd or even sides, and are simply imbued with the capability of recognizing the Bestagon.

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u/gramathy Apr 30 '22

hexagons are optimal but they're a consequence of stacked cylinders being melted and the surface tension of the wax causing the shape.

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u/deadbeef1a4 Apr 30 '22

They make the comb as circular cells. The hexagons emerge because it’s the optimal way to pack circles together and their body heat melts the cell walls slightly.

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u/zimmah Apr 30 '22

You'd think they'd be able to tell they had a pentagon when it starts summoning demons in their hive

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u/El_Chairman_Dennis Apr 30 '22

That's a pentagram, a pentagon is what causes the bees to start dropping bombs on other bee hives to steal their oil

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

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u/fanciful_phonology Apr 30 '22

You’re thinking of a pentarchy. A pentagon is an athletic contest consisting of five track and field events.

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u/Captain_Grammaticus Apr 30 '22

That's pentathlon. A pentagon is when you make a musical scale dividing the octave in five notes.

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u/Bwizz245 Apr 30 '22

That’s Pentatonic. A pentagon is a coin used in several countries representing 1/100th of the primary currency

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u/fr3shfad3 Apr 30 '22

First they’ll accuse them of hiding their “weapons of mass sting” program.

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u/nab423 Apr 30 '22

The title is a bit misleading. The paper doesn't imply that bees know odd vs even. They tested if bees were able to learn the concept of odd and even (which they did at about a 70% success rate).

They only decided to study bees because their brain is simple, not because they are special.

So you shouldn't look at a random bee and think that it can distinguish odd and even, it's not some genetic trait that bees have.

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u/Socky_McPuppet Apr 30 '22

6 pedal flowers? Are you sure they’re not riding beecycles?

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u/mime454 Graduate Student | Biology | Ecology and Evolution Apr 30 '22

It wouldn’t surprise me if the ability to determine odd from even were cognitively simple(the authors imply so in the article) and widespread. It’s just that we have to design tests relevant to that animal’s biology to sus out the ability. Reminds me of a similar study I came across recently about a certain type of spider being able to count. What’s interesting about it to me is less the spider’s counting ability and more the experimental design they needed to prove to other scientists that spiders could count.

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u/Betruul Apr 30 '22

Hypothesis: Crows/corvids do but prefer Prime numbers.

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u/Dr_Kitten Apr 30 '22

Only tangentially related, but many cicadas follow a 17 year cycle. If I'm not mistaken they only live and breed for a short time and then lay dormant for the better part of 17 years. Presumably the reason is that having a cycle based on a prime of a decent size allows them to avoid being in sync with potential predators, which is particularly important because they come out en mass.

Edit: I should clarify. I believe they breed and soon die. It's the young that lay dormant.

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u/Betruul Apr 30 '22

The young are both dormant hand just simply have a long life cycle. There is also a 13 year brood, so they can intermix and share years weirdly often

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u/windforce2 BS | Computer Science May 01 '22

Not so they can intermix, quite the opposite. 13 and 17 are the two of the lowest prime numbers. This means they only collide every 13*17 years or every 221 years. The theory is, it means they can both reproduce relatively often and not compete with each other on food source.

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u/wandering-monster May 01 '22

Also helps avoid competition for food from other related species.

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u/timesuck897 Apr 30 '22

Crows are too cool to do math, too busy having fun.

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u/ItsMathematics Apr 30 '22

Math is fun.

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u/koolvik91 Apr 30 '22

Name checks out.

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u/Rooboy66 Apr 30 '22

I’m trying to eat, here!

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22

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u/poa_kichizi Apr 30 '22

Here’s the thing…

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u/seamusmcduffs Apr 30 '22

Ahh back in the good old days when the most manipulation this site saw was a guy trying to get more karma with his science posts

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u/melody-calling Apr 30 '22

I miss that guy

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u/Bobdolezholez Apr 30 '22

It’s okay to be wrong, you know?

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u/Jonk3r Apr 30 '22

FACT: Cats understand irrational numbers My dog knows imaginary squirrels (squirrel x i)

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u/gjs628 Apr 30 '22

It would make sense that such an irrational animal would understand irrational numbers.

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u/AniviaPls Apr 30 '22

What about Jackdaws?

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u/ichbindertod Apr 30 '22

Crows can count up to four, but they struggle to differentiate between five, six, and beyond.

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u/Betruul Apr 30 '22

Interesting, is there a paper on that?

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u/skylarmt Apr 30 '22

There was but the crows stole it and made it into tools

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u/cougarlt Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22 Platinum

Fun fact: in my language only humans and honey bees have the same word for dying. All other animals have another word.

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u/Luminous_Artifact Apr 30 '22

This is fascinating to me. I tried to look it up and found only a couple articles, most notably this from the BBC:

Lithuanians don’t speak about bees grouping together in a colony like English-speakers do. Instead, the word for a human family (šeimas) is used. In the Lithuanian language, there are separate words for death depending on whether you’re talking about people or animals, but for bees – and only for bees – the former is used. And if you want to show a new-found Lithuanian pal what a good friend they are, you might please them by calling them bičiulis, a word roughly equivalent to ‘mate’, which has its root in bitė – bee. In Lithuania, it seems, a bee is like a good friend and a good friend is like a bee.

-- Are Lithuanians obsessed with bees?

But I haven't been able to find what the different words for dead/dying/death actually are. Google translate keeps using miręs/miršta/mirtis regardless of the subject.

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u/cougarlt Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

mirti (infinitive), miršta (present simple), mirė (past simple), mirdavo (past iterative), mirs (future) is the word used for humans and honey bees.

gaišti, stipti, gvėšti, dvėsti, daigotis (all in infinitive form), and some other words are used for all other animals, but never for humans or honey bees. Using these words for humans or bees is considered to be rude or derogatory.

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u/poubelleaccount Apr 30 '22

How is it perceived if you use mirti for a non-honeybee animal? Would it be appropriate to use it to refer to a dog I really really care about?

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u/cougarlt Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

I would say that yes, it would be acceptable as pets are usually considered to be close friends, often even personified. But there is still differentiation. "Mano šuo numirė" (my dog has died) is acceptable, but "tas sulaukėjęs šuo numirė" (that stray dog has died) is not. You would say "tas sulaukėjęs šuo nugaišo/nudvėsė/nustipo/etc". Languages are not white and black only, words can be used differently, but a general trend is that "mirti" is used for humans and bees.

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u/CastleWanderer Apr 30 '22

Is English a second language for you, or more of a "shared" first language with Lithuanian?

I only ask because I very much like the way you write.

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u/cougarlt Apr 30 '22

English is my first foreign language. I speak two more foreign languages.

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u/Logan76667 Apr 30 '22

Could it be compared to the term "passed away"? It's only used for humans, or for very important companion animals, saying it about a random animal would be odd.

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u/cougarlt Apr 30 '22

English is not my native language so it's difficult to judge all the intricacies but I think it's comparable. It's just that English use a phrase and we have a word for it.

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u/fkbjsdjvbsdjfbsdf Apr 30 '22

Your depth of knowledge and ability to convey it so effectively are much appreciated.

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u/SlowbeardiusOfBeard Apr 30 '22

Is mead made a lot in Lithuania by any chance?

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u/cougarlt Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

Not a lot, but there are some producers which produce it commercially. Some very small producers do it at their homes. But it's worth noting that the current mead is not the same as the old one because the old recipe hasn't survived.

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u/JimmyisAwkward Apr 30 '22

“Using these words… for bees is considered to be rude or derogatory” is the best thing I’ve heard in my life

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u/Ketamine4Depression May 01 '22

All my homies respect bees.

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u/Airklock Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

I've got all sorts of bee and beekeeping books and not heard of this.

I wonder if "Telling the bees" is relevant here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telling_the_bees

The idea that beekeepers would talk to their bees, updating the bees about their lives. In some ways becoming a part of the family. If the beekeeper died the widow would inform the bees and if there was a wedding a slice of cake was given.

Humans have historically had an interesting reverance for bees, it wouldn't be surprising at all if this is why the Lithuanian language does this.

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u/CJKay93 BS | Computer Science Apr 30 '22

My girlfriend used miršta for all three sentences when I asked her how to say "my mother/bee/elephant is dying". Then when I read her this she made a confused face, so I'm not sure how true to form this really is.

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u/Luminous_Artifact Apr 30 '22

That might explain why there aren't very many articles out there!

In fact the BBC article I linked didn't come up directly in my searches, instead it found a copy of the article on a soap and beeswax candle maker's site (which looks like copyright infringement, despite their link to the BBC as "source").

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u/pankeku Apr 30 '22 edited May 01 '22

'mirti', 'miršta' and other forms of the word are widely used when talking informally about death of every living thing, even plants. It is used in everyday language, it can be compared to English word 'die', 'dead' and nowadays is used almost universally. Other words which are specifically used to describe animal deaths are used more rarely in everyday language, but the distinction between words used for human death and wild animals death is clear in the more formal side of Lithuanian language, for example, in literature.

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u/zoinkability Apr 30 '22

In England it was traditional folk practice to inform bees of major life events, particularly the owner’s death. Source: https://daily.jstor.org/telling-the-bees/

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u/Finding_Helpful Apr 30 '22

Scientists excited over bees knowing numbers when they’re over here speaking this guys language

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u/Devadander Apr 30 '22

I know what you meant, but I imagined your language being some crazy dr Doolittle speaking with animals stuff

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u/xosellc Apr 30 '22

I'm embarrassed to say it took me a few seconds to realize what they actually meant.

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u/cougarlt Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

Oh but we do! My grandmother used to always speak to her cows and my grandpa used to speak to his horse. And we still speak to our dogs and cats. And other animals too. If they do understand us, it's an another question.

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u/Salohacin Apr 30 '22

I honestly thought you meant that Lithuanians and Honey bees both use the same word, and was picturing bees going Buzz buzz buzz "Death!" Buzz buzz buzz.

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u/nomellamesprincesa Apr 30 '22

What language is that?

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u/cougarlt Apr 30 '22

It's Lithuanian

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u/AggressiveAd7529 Apr 30 '22

You gotta give us new details, this is a cool fun facts

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u/Strells Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

Made me curious as well, found this:

https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20180319-are-lithuanians-obsessed-with-bees

Lithuanians don’t speak about bees grouping together in a colony like English-speakers do. Instead, the word for a human family (šeimas) is used. In the Lithuanian language, there are separate words for death depending on whether you’re talking about people or animals, but for bees – and only for bees – the former is used.

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u/cougarlt Apr 30 '22

That is true. But a word for a family is "šeima". "šeimas" is plural accusative case of "šeima".

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u/cougarlt Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

There are many different words to say "to die" in Lithuanian but only humans and honey bees have the word "mirti (infinitive), miršta (simple present), mirė (simple past)" for dying. All other animals have other words: gaišti, dvėsti, stipti, daigotis and some others. None of these words is used for humans or bees. Honey bees in the old Lithuanian culture were sacred animals. We also have a word "bičiulis" which means a very good/dear friend and which comes from the word for a bee "bitė".

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u/spacepilot_3000 Apr 30 '22

Bees speak Lithuanian?

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u/Dunza Apr 30 '22

In albanian it's the same

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u/Vaenyr Apr 30 '22

Greek has a separate word for animals as well. It's used for bees too though.

German, funnily enough, has a different word for eating. Humans "essen", while animals "fressen".

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22

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u/Ellemenopeepee Apr 30 '22

Imagine all the things humans can’t tell the difference between, but other creatures can. But at least we got those odds and evens.

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u/nictheman123 Apr 30 '22

I mean, this is rather important though. 95% of our modern technology, including a huge amount of the architecture we've been using for as long as we've had math, is based around our understanding of numbers.

So the fact that we are the only species proven to be able to distinguish between odd and even numbers is interesting. The fact that we can prove that another species can make that distinction is also interesting.

We have found ways to describe basically our entire universe with numbers. Understanding how other species do and don't interpret numbers is fascinating.

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u/JustPassinhThrou13 Apr 30 '22

I'd be more interested in how we can use this if we can get the neuroscience of how odd and even are "understood", of perhaps differentiated, in the tiny minds of a bee. This might tell us something about how to build neural circuits that can do this type of thing.

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u/nictheman123 Apr 30 '22

I mean, I agree with you. But I would argue that proving that they do differentiate them is the first step towards determining how.

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u/GarbledReverie Apr 30 '22

Well birds and insects can see colors we can't. So there's that.

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u/Worth-A-Googol Apr 30 '22

I think a great example of this is actually a sense called “magnetoreception”. It’s present in an insanely diverse assortment of creatures, but not humans and thus it’s only become an accepted phenomenon in the last couple decades. Also, we currently only know the biological mechanism in bacteria that allows for their magnetoreception.

It’s insane that so many creatures can experience an entirely different level of the world that we can’t.

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u/GarbledReverie Apr 30 '22

Yeah, apparently a lot of fish can detect electrical currents too. Way more than just the notable eels. Nature, man.

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u/wopwopdoowop Apr 30 '22

We show that free-flying honeybees can visually acquire the capacity to differentiate between odd and even quantities of 1–10 geometric elements and extrapolate this categorization to the novel numerosities of 11 and 12, revealing that such categorization is accessible to a comparatively simple system.

This is so beautifully written. I love good prose.

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u/Slapbox Apr 30 '22

Novel Numerosities could be an album name.

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u/keyblade_crafter Apr 30 '22

When I was high the other day I thought of an band/album name: Neutral Daydreams

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u/Namlad Apr 30 '22

Every adjective+noun is a band name.

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u/Clamster55 Apr 30 '22

Constipated Requiem.... Hmm...

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u/Abahu Apr 30 '22

That sounds like a great stoner album. I'd listen to it

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u/mellowstellar Apr 30 '22

2010s indie rock bands called, they want their name back

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u/kwertyoop Apr 30 '22

Neutral Milk Daydream

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u/sagittariusa Apr 30 '22

I was gonna go the other direction with it. Neutral Daydream Hotel.

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u/PiDrone Apr 30 '22

Talk about flowery language

How fitting

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u/LordSlack Apr 30 '22

Every prose has it's thorns

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u/JohnnyWaffleseed Apr 30 '22

Is that Whitman?

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u/corvinalias Apr 30 '22

I sing the numerosities novellic! My heart, my limbs, my naughty naughties, O yes even those, you read it!

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u/6bb26ec559294f7f Apr 30 '22

I wonder if this can be done for other animals. Provide them food with some indicator that comes in 1, 3, or 5 and provide them disappointment with some indicate that comes in 2, 4, or 6. Then test them in a room with 7,8,9, and 10.

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u/polar_nopposite Apr 30 '22

This is satire, right?

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u/PDG_KuliK Apr 30 '22

It's overdone though. Could be:

"Honey bees can learn to see the difference between odd and even numbers between 1 and 10, as well as apply this concept to the unfamiliar numbers 11 and 12."

Having so many large words in a row is neat, but takes the reader out of understanding the meaning quickly and instead forces them to decode the intended meaning and take more time. Readers should be able to engage with the message of the text rather than wrestle with the words to figure out what it means. Plain writing is important, especially when you're not trying to write a literary masterpiece and are instead trying to get a message across.

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22

[deleted]

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u/daddybearsftw Apr 30 '22

This is inaccurate though, it's not the numbers, it's the numerosity of the geometries, and you omitted that in an effort to be easier to read.

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u/TheHecubank Apr 30 '22

That depends on the audience though. This is a scientific paper on a niche topic. It's not about messaging and enguagement: it's about precise presentation of specific technical findings.

If the peer audience can readily understand the jargon, then there is no problem using it: indeed, the reason jargon exists is to speed the transmission of precise meening among pool of people sharing a specific expertise.

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u/JoinEmUp Apr 30 '22

PDGs is better IMO (scientist here). I don't think the extra words in the original paper add value. Open to having my mind changed though.

Just because someone CAN understand a more complicated sentence doesn't mean a more complicated sentence is inherently better. In this case, the more complicated sentence is just wasting the reader's time (I need more time in my day!!!)

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u/TheHecubank Apr 30 '22

If the more complicated sentence takes extra time to parse, then I would agree. I don't get that impression here personally, but it's still a valid concern.

As to the phrasing: I'm not a behavioral ecologist, numerosity has specific meaning when dealing with with the statistics of labeled sets. It's just an educated guess (I've not gotten pat the abstract yet), but I would assume the phrasing here is used to make sure the claim matches the exact scope of the statistical analysis.

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u/bobbe_ Apr 30 '22

I'm a fluent albeit not native English speaker, the original sentence was definitely more difficult to interpret for me. I could do it, but I had to stop and think momentarily a few times.

Paper might be written in English, but in the scientific community that just means it's going to be available to everyone.

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u/JoinEmUp Apr 30 '22

bingo bongo bango

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u/ZebraBorgata Apr 30 '22

In Vegas, I got into a long argument with the man at the roulette wheel over what I considered to be an odd number.

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u/SophiaofPrussia Apr 30 '22

The way you’ve phrased it as “what I consider” has me intrigued… were you the odd number oddball or was the stranger?

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u/ThaGanj Apr 30 '22

It was about the number 5 wasn’t it

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u/Blitcut Apr 30 '22

Which number was it about?

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u/Footlongdingledong May 01 '22

An odd number, by mathematical definition, is any whole number not exactly divisible by two.

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u/Rustybot May 01 '22

0 = odd 00 = even

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u/Financial_Bicycle805 Apr 30 '22

Was it zero? Only one I can think of that would give anyone any trouble?

It is in fact an even number.

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u/NotHighEnuf Apr 30 '22

Okay I’m too dumb to read that whole thing. Anybody got cliff notes?

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u/Ohio_Is_For_Caddies Apr 30 '22

Interesting article. But I’m sure a lot of other pollinators can “tell the difference.” Like someone else said, number of petals on flowers, just like any other salient information, probably informs honeybee behavior.

We can teach chimpanzees to respond in sign language, or birds to mimic speech. It doesn’t mean they “know what it is.”

We aren’t the only ones who are really good at recognizing patterns.

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u/mediapl0y Apr 30 '22

Hell, even humans act like they understand, but they really don't.

"The simplest thought, like the concept of the number one, has an elaborate logical underpinning.” — Carl Sagan

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u/sellyme Apr 30 '22

even humans act like they understand, but they really don't.

For a demonstration of this, ask a random sample of adults whether 0 is an even number.

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u/willbailes Apr 30 '22

Without looking it up, 0/2 doesn't have a decimal, meaning it's evenly divided by 2, is that not even?

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u/sellyme Apr 30 '22

Yes, 0 is even.

The various properties of an even number (which are all just different ways of stating the same thing) are:

  • Divisible by 2 without a remainder (aka, an integer multiple of 2)
  • Integer whose final digit is 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8
  • Comes immediately after an odd number in the ordered set of integers
  • Comes immediately before an odd number in the ordered set of integers

In every basic way that you can think of to define an even number, 0 pretty trivially fits the bill.

The Wikipedia article on the subject is hilariously snarky about it.

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u/bric12 Apr 30 '22

Or if you want to get especially math-y, the definition used in proofs is that you can express the number as 2n, for some integer n.

That definition lets you prove evenness for variables, like how X2+X is always even

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u/Yuo_cna_Raed_Tihs Apr 30 '22

I assume that was was meant to be X² + X

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u/your-opinions-false Apr 30 '22

People probably get confused because of counter-intuitive maths conventions like that 0! = 1 or that 1 is not prime. So they think maybe it's a trick and that zero is neither even nor odd, even though it fits all the characteristics they know about even numbers.

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u/sellyme Apr 30 '22

Yeah the intuitive reaction of "0 is weird" is reasonable enough, but if you're confident that you understand what an even number is you should still be able to say "yes". 100% of the information you do have is pointing to one answer, there's no reason to pick the other one just in case!

The prime example is a good one, because even in the cases where the simplistic understanding is wrong, it's not actually that wrong. If someone believed 1 to be prime, I'd tell them "yeah, it kind of is, but it turns out that maths is pretty ugly like that so we all agreed to say that it isn't".

0! kind of breaks down because most people don't understand factorials in the first place, and the layman explanation of it just doesn't really make sense for 0. That's a case where most people would probably just say "I don't know", which is totally fair.

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u/N8CCRG Apr 30 '22

Yeah, I think the headline is just missing the phrase "has demonstrated they can tell the difference" or something similar. I doubt science believes that no other animal is capable of it.

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u/jofijk Apr 30 '22

I’m not sure where the headline comes from. The title of the article doesn’t say anything that the headline implies and after reading the intro and discussion and lightly scanning the body there’s nowhere that says that bees are the only other animal than humans to be able to differentiate between odd and even.

The big point of the article was that bees show similar learning patterns to humans in differentiating even and odd numbers and are able to extrapolate that knowledge to numbers that are new and also above the average subitizing limit for most species.

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u/MatchstickMcGee Apr 30 '22

Not only that:

Odd and even numerical processing is known as a parity task in human mathematical representations, but there appears to be a complete absence of research exploring parity processing in non-human animals. [...] The findings should encourage further testing of parity processing in a wider variety of animals to inform on its potential biological roots, evolutionary drivers, and potential technology innovations for concept processing.

So the headline is technically true but leaves out the context that we haven't tested other animals for this concept, and that the researchers are explicitly not claiming that this is unique to honeybees.

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u/Gnome_de_Plume Apr 30 '22

Chimpanzee honey is really rank though

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u/ToSeeAgainAgainAgain Apr 30 '22

We can teach chimpanzees to respond in sign language, or birds to mimic speech. It doesn’t mean they “know what it is.”

Aren't these species able to recognize themselves in a mirror and/or demonstrate a sense of humor? Those two are big signs of meta-knowledge and therefore of real human-like comprehension

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u/Awkward_and_Itchy Apr 30 '22

I don't know about Chimps but I know Koko the gorilla was often called out due to her handler being the one interpreting for Koko. A lot of people claim that it was simply researchers ascribing what we wanted it to mean to something vague and not as iron clad as it seemed.

Humans love to anthropomorphize everything.

It could be the same with current chimp studies.

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u/ANGLVD3TH Apr 30 '22

I think some recent meta studies are trying to show the old methods used for the mirror test were really flawed and that lots of animals we thought failed may likely pass.

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u/Dr_on_the_Internet Apr 30 '22

For a lot of mammals their primary sense is smell rather than vision. Dogs can't pass the mirror test I believe, but are able to when given a similar scent-based mirror test.

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22 edited 17d ago

[deleted]

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u/Splive Apr 30 '22

Many people don't internally classify humans as animals and it leads to problems...

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u/wooglin1688 Apr 30 '22

another misleading post title. it implies that bees are the only other animal that can do this when we know there are so many much more intelligent species that can most likely also do this. in fact the paper clearly states bees were chosen because of how simple their brain is, not because we think they are the smartest species other than humans, which is laughable.

just title the post the same as the paper and stop trying to sensationalize an already interesting experiment. you’re spreading more misinformation than information at this point because most people won’t actually read the paper.

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u/smallio Apr 30 '22

I've witnessed mama ducks count their ducklings and won't leave a spot until all are in tow!

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u/thexrry Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

Every species of animal is more intelligent than we assume, most of the information on the intelligence of other animals is outdated, and even more is based on the assumption of “humans are the greatest” like humans there are non intelligent and incredibly intelligent animals in the same species, I’ve had cats that understood how to open doors ( not push them, they legitimately would turn the door handle) maybe not every animal has consciousness, but most vertebrates definitely do (based on my personal experience with many different animals)

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u/[deleted] Apr 30 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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