Touchscreens have now even ventured into the world of land-dwelling reptiles. In a recent study, red-footed tortoises not only mastered the technology in exchange for strawberries, but the animals also transferred their knowledge to a real-life setting. Originally published in the July issue of the Journal of Behavioural Processes by researchers out of the University of Lincoln in England, the study set out to explore how well a tortoise could learn a spatial task when the response required was a simple touchscreen stimulus.
The tortoises, which are native to Central and South America, don’t have a hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with learning, memory and spatial navigation, researcher Anna Wilkinson explained. Instead, red-footed tortoises may rely on an area of the brain called the medial cortex, an area associated with complex cognitive behavior and decision-making in people. To understand how tortoises learn, the researchers tested how the reptiles relied on cues to get around, Live Science reported.
Wilkinson and researchers at the University of Vienna gave the tortoises treats when the reptiles looked at, approached and then pecked on the screen. From the looks of the video, these four red-footed tortoises learned how to use touchscreens rather quickly. The new findings will now assist researchers compare the perceptual and cognitive abilities of tortoises to other animals that can perform similar tasks. The experiment also reinforces other findings that tortoises are indeed intelligent creatures.
Watch the Live Science video below.