The world is crazy, parrots know “probability theory. “

New Zealand, a warm land of water. Unlike Australia, where there are poisonous animals next door, you can’t even see a snake here. However, there is a unique species of “naughty and unbridled” living here, the Nestor notabilis, commonly known locally as Kea.

Bold and naughty sheep parrots . . . Peti Deuxmont / Wikimedia Commons

The macawing, which lives in New Zealand’s harsh mountains, likes to bite climbers’ backpacks and shoes on weekdays, occasionally flipping through trash cans, or collaborating to pry open doors and windows for food, or even locking climbers in mountain toilets. With its unique curiosity and high IQ, the sheep parrot is a household name in New Zealand. A number of scientific studies have confirmed the cleverness of the macacros, who not only use tools, but also successfully pass many mind game tests.

Recently, the University of Auckland has designed a more difficult mind game to test the parrot. They want to know if these little guys know statistical inferences as well as humans? The results show that: the sheep parrot does have a real sense of statistical inference ability! They estimate the probability of something happening and adjust the behavior based on the probability. The study was published March 4, 2020 in the journal Nature Communications.

Estimating probability, what kind of solution idea does the parrot use?

In the test, the researchers filled two jars with black clips and orange clips, and the number of black clips in the two cans was different. The tester randomly removed a clip from each of the two jars and clenched his hand, leaving the sheep parrot to select one of the hands. If the parrot selects the hand holding the black clip, it rewards food;

Experiments have shown that the sheep parrot is more likely to choose a jar with more black clips. In other words, the macaper seems to understand that if there are more black clips in the jar, there is a greater chance of removing the black clips from the inside and are more likely to be rewarded.

Hey? Isn’t that the probability that we humans say?

Guess which side the black clip is on.

However, this does not fully prove that the macatoe has a true statistical inferred ability. According to previous studies, the real statistical inferred ability refers to the use of the number of objects as a proportion of the total number of the size of the calculation of probability, which is the way humans and orangutans think; That is, if the macaper does count the inference, they will estimate the proportion of black clips in the jar, rather than just comparing the number of black clips in different jars.

So the researchers went on to design a control experiment to see what kind of “problem-solving ideas” the macaques were using. The results showed that when the number of black clips was the same, the sheep parrot tended to choose a jar with a higher proportion of the black clip. This shows that the sheep parrot calculates the probability by observing the relative proportion of the object in the whole, and has the ability of statistical inference in the true sense.

Making it more difficult: Will parrot’s probability inference take into account physical barriers?

Humans also have a stunt in noticing the existence of physical barriers and knowing that objects separated by them should not be counted in probability. So, when making statistical inferences, will the parrot sit as well as humans, know how to take the observed obstacles into account?

In a second set of experiments, the researchers added a partition to the middle of the jar. Testers and parrots can see the clip under the partition, but can’t reach it.

Cans with partitions

As a result, the macaques were more likely to choose a jar with a higher proportion of black clips above the partition (i.e., the jar on the right side of group d and the jar on the left side of group e) in the figure above. This suggests that they understand that the clip under the partition is not statistically within the statistical range when inferring probability. Similar to humans, the macacros take into account physical barriers when making statistical inferences.

“Social sheep brother”, people also know the world

In the previous experiment, the tester acted like a ruthless “clutch machine” without interfering with the results. However, we know that in real human society or animal populations, the probability of an event is often influenced by humans or animal companions. For example, you go to the canteen to play, if you know which aunt usually play more dishes, then you will be more willing to go to her window to play food. But can the macaper be aware of the effect of these “social” factors on probability?

The team brought in two more testers, one in the role of “biased” and the other for “random”. The “biased” tester will take the black clip from the jar, while the other will go too far and randomly take the clip from the jar. The experiment found that although the proportion of black clips in different jars was the same, the sheep parrot was more likely to choose the “biased” tester. In other words, the macaper seems to have seen through the minds of the “biased” volunteers, knowing that he is particularly attached to the black clip. Thus, the researchers believe that the macaper, like humans, observes and takes into account social information when making probability inferences and choices.

Guess the black clip, change the food.

Through the above three sets of experiments, we can see that the statistical inference of the parrot is highly similar to that of humans and orangutans, i.e. the probability is calculated in relative quantities, not in absolute quantities, and the existence of physical barriers is understood, taking into account social information. This is the first time we have known that species other than primates also have the ability to infer probability.

Smart anti-being “wrong” by cleverness, high IQ brings the disaster of extinction

The cleverness of the sheep parrot also caused itself trouble. Its Chinese name, “Sheep”, is a very graphic description of the source of trouble.

Because of the long-term living in the alpine environment, the parrots do not pick on food, meat is also on their diet. When some herders migrate to alpine areas, the sheep they bring become fatty food for the parrots. Beginning in the 1860s, some alpine herders complained of strange wounds in their sheep, while others witnessed how sheep parrots attacked sheep, chased them until they were exhausted or even fell off cliffs.

The sheep parrot brought great losses to the alpine herders, and the government decided to reward the culling of the sheep parrot. From the late 1860s to the 1970s, about 150,000 sheep parrots were shot or poisoned. In 1986, the government legislated to protect the parrots, but there were still illegal hunting and poaching. Coupled with the introduction of exotic domestic cats and other issues, there are now only about 3000 to 7000 parrots across New Zealand, listed as “endangered” status.

In addition to the mutine parrot, other species of parrots are also having a hard time. Many parrots are cute and cute, and they can learn human language, making them popular pets.

Network celebrity big sunflower cockatoo Snowball follows the beat of music . . . Cell Press/Irena Schulz

This has brought disaster to many parrots. Because artificial breeding is difficult and expensive, and pet market demand is huge, poaching and smuggling, resulting in many parrot species in the wild endangered.

Tap the display in the blankspace

Wild-caught African grey parrots huddle in tiny transport cages – World Parrot Trust

In fact, many medium and large parrots are not suitable for pets. Not only do they cry a lot, but they also require a lot of space for movement and a lot of companionship as a group animal. Many large and medium-sized parrots are later abandoned or left out by the lord, eventually suffering from mental illness, stripping up their feathers…

Parrots with pheasiti (left) and normal parrots (right) Benny Mazur / Flickr

The tiger-skin parrots that can be legally bred are common in Chinese’s homes.

It is often said: “Like is indulgence, love is restraint.” Wouldn’t it be better for these high-intelligence creatures to live freely in nature if we really loved these high-intelligence creatures?