Despite their miniature brains, a new study says honeybees can learn basic arithmetic, CNN reports.
According to a study published this week in Science Advances, scientists at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have shown that honeybees can add and subtract if trained to do so. This discovery helps scientists understand the relationship between brain size and brain power, perhaps knocking birdbrain off the list of perceived slights. Honeybees and humans are separated by more than 400 million years of evolution, so the study's authors say their findings suggest that an advanced understanding of numbers "may be more accessible to nonhuman animals than previously suspected."
Many animals understand numbers at a basic level for essential tasks. But until now, only a few animals have demonstrated the ability to add and subtract. Honeybees join this short list that includes chimpanzees, African grey parrots and spiders.
The revelation that the tiny brain of a honeybee can understand basic mathematical operations has ramifications for the future development of artificial Intelligence, according to RMIT.
"This could give us insight on how to build more simple computers that can still process at a higher level ... perhaps making computers more energy efficient," said Scarlett R. Howard, the study's lead author.