Giraffe make decisions based on statistical information

The ability to make inferences based on statistical information has so far been tested only in animals having large brains in relation to their body size, like primates and parrots. Here we tested if giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), despite having a smaller relative brain size, can rely on relative frequencies to predict sampling outcomes. We presented them with two transparent containers fled with different quantities of highly-liked food and less-preferred food. The experimenter covertly drew one piece of food from each container, and let the giraffe choose between the two options. In the first task, we varied the quantity and relative frequency of highly-liked and less-preferred food pieces. In the second task, we inserted a physical barrier in both containers, so giraffe only had to take into account the upper part of the container when predicting the outcome. In both tasks giraffe successfully selected the container more likely to provide the highly-liked food, integrating physical information to correctly predict sampling information. By ruling out alternative explanations based on simpler quantity heuristics and learning processes, we showed that giraffe can make decisions based on statistical inferences.
Publish DateMay 31, 2023
Last UpdatedMay 31, 2023