Do you need help with your math homework? Maybe you should get a baby chick—or how about a mosquito fish?
In a recent study, baby chickens were put near small plastic balls as soon as they were born. Chicks have a desire to stay close to whatever is near them when they are born—usually their mother! This is known as “imprinting.” Therefore these chicks wanted to stay near the plastic balls.
In the experiment, the chicks watched as three of the plastic balls were hidden behind one screen and two behind another. When released, the chicks always chose to look behind the screen with more balls behind it. Then the researchers went a step farther: after the balls had been hidden behind the screens, they moved a few of the balls from one screen to the other (as each chick watched). Once again, the chicks walked to the screen hiding more balls, showing that the chicks were able to figure out which screen had more balls behind it after the balls were moved.
A similar experiment was done with mosquito fish. The fish also showed, by swimming through certain doors, that they could count numbers. Chickens and mosquito fish join chimps, as well as dogs, as showing that they have some understanding of arithmetic. But in the case of the chicks, never before has an animal been shown to display such ability from birth and without training.
The intelligence of animals is sometimes fascinating and often puzzling, but in each case it reveals how God designed animals with a variety of incredible mental skills. Still, maybe you should do your own math homework for now!