Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Now, if I could train my children to unload the dishwasher

It appears that rodents can be taught to use tools. In studies using the degus, a rodent native to Chile, researchers have trained the degus to reach through a fence, grab hold of a tiny rake and pull their favorite food, half a peeled sunflower seed, close enough to reach with their mouths. After two months of practice, researchers say, the degus can move the rake as smoothly and efficiently as croupiers in any Las Vegas casino. The study indicates that the brains of the degus showed molecular and genetic changes with tool use.

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