The researchers travelled to nine different zoos in US and presented 140 animals from 39 different mammalian carnivore species with a novel problem-solving task.
The study included polar bears, arctic foxes, tigers, river otters, wolves, spotted hyenas and some rare, exotic species such as binturongs, snow leopards and wolverines.
Each animal was given 30 minutes to try to extract food from a closed metal box. To access the food, an animal had to slide a bolt latch, which would allow a door to open.

The main result is that species with larger brains relative to their body size were more successful than species with relatively smaller brains.
Interestingly, larger animals were less successful overall than smaller-bodied animals. The study also shows that manual dexterity did not affect problem-solving success.
In addition to examining the influence of brain size on problem-solving abilities, the researchers also studied whether species that live in larger average group sizes are more successful problem solvers.

The study was published in the journal PNAS.


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