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Not so Dumbo: Scientist proves elephants can do maths

Posted on 5:35 PM by Sameer Shah



Elephants are known for their sharp memories, now a study has found that they are excellent at maths as well.

A researcher in Japan found an Asian elephant called Ashya was able to add small numbers together with almost 90 per cent accuracy.

Naoko Irie of the University of Tokyo in Japan found the matriarch was able to recognise which of two buckets contained more apples in an experiment.

A trainer dropped three apples into one bucket and one apple into a second, then four more apples in the first and five more in the second.

It was observed that the 31-year-old elephant recognised that three plus four was greater than one plus five, and snacked on the seven apples.



'I even get confused when I”m dropping the bait,' Irie tod New Scientist magazine.

Ms Irie was surprised to find the large mammals were as successful in telling between five and six apples as they were between five and one.

She told the International Society for Behavioral Ecology that she had tested four elephants and found they picked the bucket with the most fruit 74 per cent of the time.

'It really is tough to figure out why (elephants) would need to count,' ecologist Mya Thompson said about the research.

She believes counting may be helpful for Asian elephants, which live in close-knit groups of six to eight, in ensuring that the entire herd stays together.

'You really don”t want to lose your group members,' she said.

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