June 11, 2021
Indeed, it’s long been known that pigs are smarter than dogs, and are believed to be the sixth-most intelligent creature on Earth—after ravens and crows, chimpanzees, elephants, gorillas, and dolphins.
Early 20th-century studies found that they could solve multiple-choice problems; and later studies showed they could learn to obtain light, produce extra heat for their enclosures; and acquire feed.
For the latest study researchers at Purdue University trained four pigs to control a cursor on a monitor, using their snouts to move the joystick in return for rewards. They used two micro pigs called Ebony and Ivory; and two Yorkshire pigs, called Hamlet and Omelet, to test the animals’ abilities.
Writing in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, Professor Candace Croney of Purdue University, and Sarah Boysen said they showed the animals a video game in which they had to use a joystick to maneuver a cursor until it collided with one of four wall-like structures on screen, making a sound—at which point the pig received a food treat.
“This may have been due to the strong bond the pigs developed with the experimenter during training.”
Croney said: “Potentially there may be more that pigs are capable of learning and understanding and responding to than we have previously envisaged.”
Philip Lymbery, global chief executive of Compassion in World Farming, said the study highlighted a need for the animals to be treated better. “This latest research shows pigs are even more intelligent than we ever thought, yet we still keep the majority of pigs in the most appallingly deprived conditions on factory farms,” he said.
Research contact: @independent