Animal minds News

Bumblebees judge flowers via electric fields

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From Nature:

“We think bumblebees are using this ability to perceive electrical fields to determine if flowers were recently visited by other bumblebees and are therefore worth visiting,” says Robert.

“We had no idea that this sense even existed,” says Thomas Seeley, a behavioural biologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “Assuming we can replicate the findings, this is going to open up a whole new window on insect sensory systems for us to study.” More.

Animal Minds 1221.jpeg See also: Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain?

The way insect intelligence develops may be different as well. Bees, like many insects, exhibit “an incredibly wide variety of intelligent behaviors.” But, according to some researchers, insect intelligence tends to increase when individuality is suppressed (the hive mind):

Compared to social species, they found solitary species had significantly larger brain parts known as the mushroom bodies, which are used for multisensory integration, associative learning and spatial memory — the best available measure of complex cognition in these insects. The finding supports the idea that, as insect social behavior evolved, the need for such complex cognition in individuals actually decreased.

Some have described this “hive” model of intelligence as a “superorganism”: More.

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