Brainy Goats Are Much More Clever Than Previously Believed
March 27, 2014

What A Clever Goat You Are! Goats Can Solve Complicated Tasks Much Easier Than You Think

[ Watch the Video: Goats Are More Clever Than You Think ]

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

A new study from Queen Mary University of London reveals that goats are capable of solving complicated tasks quickly, and remember how to perform them for at least 10 months. The findings, published in Frontiers in Zoology, suggest this might explain their remarkable ability to adapt to harsh environments.

The research group trained a group of goats to follow a linked sequence of steps in order to retrieve food from a box. The goats had to first pull a lever with their mouths and then lift the lever to release the reward.

"The speed at which the goats completed the task at 10 months compared to how long it took them to learn indicates excellent long-term memory," said Dr Elodie Briefer, now based at ETH Zurich.

Some of the goats had the opportunity to watch another goat demonstrate the task before each learning session, while others didn't.

Dr Briefer added, "We found that those without a demonstrator were just as fast at learning as those that had seen demonstrations. This shows that goats prefer to learn on their own rather than by watching others."

This study represents the first time that researchers have attempted to understand how goats learn complex physical cognition tasks. The group believes this could explain why goats are so adaptable to harsh environments and so good at foraging for plants in the wild.

Dr Alan McElligott from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, commented, "Our results challenge the common misconception that goats aren't intelligent animals - they have the ability to learn complex tasks and remember them for a long time."

"This could explain why they are so successful in colonizing new environments, though we would need to perform a similar study with wild goats to be sure."