Meet the raccoons that solved an ancient puzzle

"The Crow and the Pitcher" is one of Aesop's fables that has puzzled scientific minds. The story goes like this: a thirsty crow realises it should drop stones into a pitcher in order to raise the water level high enough so that the bird is able to drink it. In relation to this, researchers have been using the ancient Greek fable as inspiration to test whether birds and small children understand cause and effect relationships. A group of US scientists have now extended this body of work to study raccoon intelligence. In the experiment, eight raccoons had to work out how to retrieve floating pieces of marshmallow from a tube. Lauren Stanton of the University of Wyoming is the lead researcher.

( Photo: Raccoon reaches for the marshmallow. Credit:Lauren Stanton )

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