Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Bumblebees and Complex Tasks

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Behavior, Nature, Wildlife, Nature of Science, Culture

Ed Hessler

Of course, some non-human animals have a culture, e.g., tool use has been observed and documented.

Now we learn, i.e., there is some evidence that one non-human animal also shares one of our cultural achievements: the "ability to do things too complex to work out alone." 

A recent paper from the British journal Nature is summarized in this film (7m 38s) which describes the experimental evidence for "this phenomenon outside humans - in bumblebees." 

Alice Bridges , the lead author, is a PhD candidate and takes us through the study and findings.

One limitation is discussed and it is important: the bees live for only one generation so this learning dies with them. Still it serves as a stimulus to look for this behavior in other animals but the design of the experiments, as you will learn, is daunting. Scientists like these kinds of problems.

You can read the paper and also have access to the transcript by using that link. In addition, the film uses subtitles so you can read and hear the interview at the same time.
I thought it was a cleverly designed study.


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