December 03, 2005
Bees Recognize Human Faces
Think all bees look alike? Well we don't all look alike to them, according to a new study that shows honeybees, who have 0.01% of the neurons that humans do, can recognize and remember individual human faces. For humans, identifying faces is critical to functioning in everyday life. But can animals also tell one face from another? Knowing honeybees' unusual propensity for distinguishing between different flowers, visual scientist Adrian Dyer of Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, wondered whether that talent stretched to other contexts. So he and his colleagues pinned photographs of four different people's faces onto a board. By rewarding the bees with a sucrose solution, the team repeatedly coaxed the insects to buzz up to a target face, sometimes varying its location.
Even when the reward was taken away, the bees continued to approach the target face accurately up to 90% of the time, the team reports in the 2 December Journal of Experimental Biology. And in the bees' brains, the memories stuck: The insects could pick out the target face even two days after being trained.
Posted by Azra Raza at 07:17 AM | Permalink
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