Human’s invention of zero was crucial for modern mathematics ans science, but other species like parrots and monkeys also understand the concept of zero, and now honeybees also joined the club too.
Honeybees understand that “nothing” can be “something” that has numerical meaning, showing that they have a primitive grasp of the concept of zero.
Andreas Nieder , says ” This is quite amazing, in my view, that bees can really do it”
That’s according to a newly published study in Science, which show’s that bees possess a mathematical ability once thought to exist only in dolphins, primates, birds and humans who are beyond the preschool years.
Andreas Nieder is a scientist who studies how animals’ process the idea of “nothing” and was not part of the research team. He continues ” Zero was discovered relatively recently in human history, and was essential in the development of both mathematics and science.It’s hard and very abstract concept.”
Nieder Says ‘ It is a sort of eccentric uncle in the number family.”
Honeybees are known to have some numerical skills such as the capacity to count to four, which may come in handy when keeping track of landmarks in their environment. To see whether these abilities extended to understand zero, researchers trained 10 bees to identify the smaller of two numbers. Across a series of trials, they showed the insects two different picture with the smaller number of shapes, they were given delicious sugar water, but if they flew toward the larger number, they were punished with bitter-testing quinine.
Once the bees had learned to consistently make the correct choice, the researches gave them n new option; a white background containing no shapes at all. Even though the bees had never seen an empty picture before, 64% of the time they chose this option rather than a picture containing two or three shapes, the authors report today in Science. This suggest that the insects understand that ” Zero ” is less than two or three. And they weren’t just going for the empty picture because it was new and interesting: Another group of bees trained trained to always choose the larger number tended to pick the nonzero image in this test.
In further experiments, the researchers showed that bee’s understanding of zero was even more sophisticated: for example, they were able to distinguish between one and zero – a challenge even for some other members of the zero club. Advanced numerical abilities like this could give animals an evolutionary advantage, helping them keep track of predators and food sources. And if an insect can display such as through grasp of the number zero, writhe the researchers, then this ability may be more common in the animal kingdom than we think.