About 8,000 years ago, chickens descended from the red jungle fowl of Southeast Asia. These domesticated animals (birds, generally) are actually amazing, constantly evolving as environments change which means they had to search for food every day. So, "it's not surprising that [they're] cognitively complex in certain things," such as spatial navigation, says Richard Blatchford, a poultry scientist at the University of California at Davis.
Yes, your friendly barnyard bird is a lot smarter than you think.
One experiment was even able to train chicks to judge absolute and relative distances to food even when such distances are changed. "Chickens have been used to study animal cognition for a long time," he adds.
Also, remember an episode in Tom and Jerry wherein a bird "imprinted" to Jerry? That's most likely true! Chickens can recognize up to 30 other individual chickens. Moreover, between 24 to 36 hours of hatching chicks imprint the image of their mother, says Dunkley. In a study, chicks even "imprinted" to an image of a red triangle!
And perhaps one of the most mind-blowing studies, it is showed that they can recognize and discern people based on their faces. They apparently like attractive faces more. Like humans, they are "keying in on things like symmetry" in features—one of the subconscious measures of attractiveness, Blatchford says.
Researchers trained four hens to react to photographs, and were then showed pictures of faces with exaggeratedly masculine and feminine traits. When the screen shows symmetrical faces the chickens tend to peck more.
The study, however, has its limitations as it only tested a small number of chickens and humans. Nonetheless, this may suggest the mutual preference for symmetry is ingrained in the nervous system, and not just because of cultural influences.
I just hope, though, that when a chicken sees you in a dating app, it wouldn't left! That's just a nightmare!
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