Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? An Ant Might Be

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A recent study reveals that ants can complete mathematical tasks at a high level, leading the study’s publisher to conclude the species may be smarter than your average fifth grader.  Apparently, that’s the control group for all measures of cognition these days.

The study published in the journal Behaviour found that “a highly social species of ant can communicate information about numbers to colony members and also perform simple arithmetic operations,” according to a news release Monday.

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Scientists Zhanna Rezhikva and Boris Ryabko headed the research regarding the numerical competence of ants and published in their abstract that the insects had the ability to  “pass information about numbers and to perform simple arithmetic operations with small numbers.” They suggest that findings concerning communication systems of highly social animals like ants may be valuable in studying numerical cognition.

Discovery News reports that these researchers have conducted prior experiments on ants which indicate they are “able to use quantitative values and pass the information about them.” They find that social animals, like ants and bees, use abstraction and extrapolation, among other math skills. According to the researchers, ants outperform even the chimpanzee — a fifth grader’s closest relation! Let’s see what Jeff Foxworthy has to say about that.

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