Good social skills make animals smarter

Not directly about crowdsourcing, but evidence that social interaction contributes to more intelligent outcomes even in lower organisms:

Between May 2012 and May 2015, Borrego placed the box inside the outdoor enclosures of the four species at wildlife sanctuaries, parks, and zoos in Florida and South Africa. Each animal, other than the hyenas, encountered the box alone and for three 10-minute trials. Because of constraints at the hyena facilities, one to four animals were tested at a time. To ensure the carnivores were motivated, none were fed for 24 hours before the experiment. They could use either their mouths or paws to open the box. “I wasn’t sure if they would even approach it,” Borrego says, because many animals regard novel items as dangerous.

She tested 48 individuals and found that the social animals—hyenas and lions—were the most successful. Eight out of nine hyenas, and 16 of the 21 lions correctly pulled the rope (as in the photo) and seized the meat; whereas only six of the 11 leopards and two of the seven tigers did so (see video, above). Lions were also the most exploratory species, circling, digging, biting, pawing, and pushing the box, the team will report next month in Animal Behaviour.

“This isn’t a task that requires social cognition,” Borrego says. “Yet, the social species were better at it, and that suggests there’s something about being social that bolsters cognition overall.”

More at Science.
(Contributor: Haym Hirsh)

Good social skills make animals smarter

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