London: Chickens are no bird brains! Young chicks may be even cleverer than human toddlers, mastering complex skills like numeracy and self-control, a new study has found.
    
Researchers said newly-hatched chickens are capable of skills that can take human babies months or even years to master. Fields of intelligence ranging from structural engineering to self-control appear to come more naturally to chicks than toddlers, they said.
    
During the study tests, hens were allowed access to more food the longer they waited to start eating. While 93 percent of birds were able to grasp this skill, comparable research suggests many humans cannot exhibit this kind of self-control until the age of four, a daily reported.
    
The research suggests that chicks are born with the ability to keep track of numbers up to five – preferring larger groups of eggs - a skill which babies need to be taught.
    
Chickens also reportedly have an instinctive ability to recognize structurally sound objects, favouring these over ones which seem dubious or inconsistent. They even show awareness of objects which fall out of sight, keeping track of them in a way that is alien to babies up to the age of about one, the report said.
    
"Despite their familiarity, few people think of domesticated chickens as intelligent birds," Professor Christine Nichol, who reviewed 20 years of research on the topic for the University of Bristol, said.
    
"Chickens may not be about to make a significant mathematical, scientific or literary contribution to the world, but the study shows that chickens have the capacity to master skills and develop abilities that a human child can take months and years to accomplish," said Nichol.

(Agencies)

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