“Pigeons Are Secretly Brilliant Birds That Understand Space and Time, Study Finds,” reads the Mental Floss headline.
Researchers at the University of Iowa set up an experiment where they showed pigeons a computer screen featuring a static horizontal line. The birds were supposed to evaluate the length of the line (either 6 centimeters or 24 centimeters) or the amount of time they saw it (either 2 or 8 seconds). The birds perceived “the longer lines to have longer duration, and lines longer in duration to also be longer in length,” according to a press release. This suggests that the concepts are processed in the same region of the brains – as they are in the brains of humans and other primates.
But pigeons don’t have a parietal cortex, which is where humans process their abstract thinking. The scientists did not explain how the pigeons were able to accomplish this. Probably magic.