As summer approaches and our lest favorite bugs start to emerge, here's something to keep in mind: Wasps are capable of thinking logically, according to a study by the University of Michigan.
The research showed that wasps can use a form of reasoning known as transitive inference to "use known relationships to infer unknown relationships."
That means wasps can work out that is X is greater than Y, and Y is greater than Z, then X is greater than Z. This thinking was also previously found in vertebrates including monkeys, birds and fish, but this is the first time transitive inference has been observed in an invertebrate.
The report based on evolutionary biologist Elizabeth Tibbetts's findings focuses on paper wasps, the species of wasp studied.
"This study adds to a growing body of evidence that the miniature nervous systems of insects do not limit sophisticated behaviors," Tibbetts said in a press release.
"We're not saying that wasps used logical deduction to solve this problem, but they seem to use known relationships to make inferences about unknown relationships," Tibbetts said. "Our findings suggest that the capacity for complex behavior may be shaped by the social environment in which behaviors are beneficial, rather than being strictly limited by brain size."
To test this, Tibbetts and her team used colors that coordinated with either an electric shock or no electric shock to see if the wasps could determine a relationship. The full report is available in scientific journal Biology Letters.
Basically, keep an eye out for any logically thinking wasps this summer. They might know more than you think.
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