Study finds they can learn complex tasks, remember them for a long time
WEDNESDAY, March 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Goats are far smarter than people believe, according to a new study.
The findings help explain goats' remarkable ability to adapt to harsh environments and forage for plants in the wild, said the researchers from Queen Mary University of London, in England.
Researchers trained some goats to get food from a box by pulling a lever with their mouth and then lifting the lever to release the reward.
The goats learned the task within 12 attempts and took only two minutes to remember it when they were tested again one and 10 months later, according to the study, which was published March 26 in the journal Frontiers in Zoology.
The speed at which the goats remembered the task after 10 months compared to how long it took them to learn it suggests that they have excellent long-term memory, the researchers said.
"Our results challenge the common misconception that goats aren't intelligent animals," study co-author Alan McElligott, of the university's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said in a university news release. "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," he said.
The Smithsonian's National Zoo has more about goats (http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/KidsFarm/InTheBarn/Goats/factsheet.cfm ).
SOURCE: Queen Mary University of London, news release, March 25, 2014