Are Baby Chickens Smarter Than Your Toddler? Study Says Newborn Chicks Understand Physics And Math Better Than Children [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on June 19, 2013 2:27 PM EDT

chickens toddlers
A new study of baby chickens shows that chicks understand things like math and self-control better than toddlers do. (Photo: Reuters)

Ever quizzed a baby chicken? Most likely not, but apparently the newborn bird would score higher than your toddler. According to new research from the UK, baby chicks are smarter than 2-year-olds, and can master a number of complex skills like numeracy and basic engineering far before your toddler can.

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"Chickens may not be about to make a significant mathematical, scientific or literary contribution to the world," said study author Christine Nicol, a professor of animal welfare at the University of Bristol. "But chickens have the capacity to master skills and develop abilities that a human child can take months and years to accomplish."

According to Nicol, chicks develop representational and numerical abilities -- able to keep track of up to five objects at a time and even demonstrating self-control -- within just a few hours of hatching, whereas the same tasks take kids months and even years to learn.

The Daily Mail reports that to demonstrate a chicken's superior intelligence to human newborns, researchers performed a number of behavioral experiments on recently hatched chicks. In one test, chicks were given a choice between two groups of plastic eggs. They almost always chose the bigger one, even when there were multiple eggs to choose from.

They also demonstrated an elementary understating of basic structural engineering. When shown diagrams of things that could be constructed in real life, and objects that were physically impossible, the chicks showed more interest in the real objects.

Lastly, during a self-control test in which chickens that waited longer for food were subsequently allowed longer access to that food, the birds learned to forego an immediate meal that ended quickly for a longer one later on. Apparently, 93 percent of the hens exhibited this level of self-control. Children, on the other hand, don't exhibit these behaviors until they're four years old.

"Chickens certainly have more capabilities than people are aware of," Siobhan Abeyesinghe, who this year published a seminal study Do Hens Have Friends?, told the Telegraph. "I do think they are unjustly maligned."

Kids reach developmental milestones -- defined as things most children can do or perform by a certain age -- in a range of cognitive, genetic, physical and cultural arenas. Milestones involve skills like taking turns, using their imaginations, kicking a ball, and learning to speak and play.

The very first of these milestones are associated with toddlers at one to two years of age. Within the first year of a child's life, she usually smiles for the first time, takes her first step and learns to wave "bye-bye."

Here's a video of a 2012 study from the University of California, Berkeley, in which researchers noted the ways children perform "thinking tasks:"

 

Read more from iScience Times:

Allergies In Toddlers Could Be Prevented When Parents Suck Baby's Pacifiers: Study

Bullying Among Siblings Is As Harmful As Peer Aggression [STUDY]

Miracle Chicken Eggs: Chicken In China Lays Half Pound Eggs [VIDEO]

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