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Study: Chickens can count

Jan. 15, 2010 at 5:09 PM

PADUA, Italy, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Italian scientists leading an international team said chickens have demonstrated the ability to count and appear to prefer a left-to-right order.

The Universities of Padua psychology department, working together with the University of Trento and Canada's University of Saskatchewan, said they taught young domestic chickens and North American nutcrackers to count their way to desired holes in a series, ANSA reported Friday.

"We were able to train chicks to peck at either the forth or sixth hole in a series of 16," study leader Lucia Regolin said.

She said a separate test found the birds preferred to count from left to right.

"Our results indicate for the first time that a disposition to count from left to right exists in non-human, non-linguistic species," she said. "The fact that they were chicks supports the theory that such a disposition is apparent very early in development."

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