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    Goats Are Far More Clever Than Previously Thought
    By News Staff | March 26th 2014 03:43 AM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    "The speed at which the goats completed the task at 10 months compared to how long it took them to learn indicates excellent long-term memory," said co-author Dr Elodie Briefer, now based at ETH Zurich.

    Before each learning session, some of the goats had the opportunity to watch another goat to demonstrate the task.

    Dr Briefer added: "We found that those without a demonstrator were just as fast at learning as those that had seen demonstrations. This shows that goats prefer to learn on their own rather than by watching others."




    The video shows how much goats like cognitive challenges and their motivation to access the box. This goat, called Willow, had already learned how to use the box and retrieve the food. We can see how it jumps over a fence to access the test.

    (Photo Credit: Queen Mary University of London)

    This is the first time that scientists have investigated how goats learn complex physical cognition tasks, which could explain why they are so adaptable to harsh environments and good at foraging for plants in the wild, for example.

    Co-author Dr Alan McElligott from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, commented: "Our results challenge the common misconception that goats aren't intelligent animals - they have the ability to learn complex tasks and remember them for a long time.

    "This could explain why they are so successful in colonising new environments, though we would need to perform a similar study with wild goats to be sure."

    The research was supported through a Swiss Federal Veterinary Office grant and Swiss National Science Foundation fellowship. The data was collected at Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Kent.





    New research from Queen Mary University of London shows goats learn how to solve complicated tasks quickly and can recall how to perform them for at least 10 months, which might explain their remarkable ability to adapt to harsh environments.

    (Photo Credit: Brian Squibb)




    This sequence shows how the goats needed to learn how to retrieve food from a box. They used a linked sequence of steps; first by pulling a lever with their mouths and then by lifting it to release the reward.

    (Photo Credit: Queen Mary University of London)