Bee Yellow Flowers

Bees understand zero, according to articles in ScienceDaily and Nature News 7 June 2018 ABC News8 June 2018, and Science, 8 June 2018, doi: 10.1126/science.aar4975.

Previous studies of bees have shown they can count up to four. Biologists at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia and University of Toulouse in France, have now shown that honeybees understand the concept of zero.  They tested them by showing the bees cards illustrated with differing numbers of shapes.  They then trained the bees to fly to the card with the lowest number of shapes, by giving a reward of sugar water if they went to the correct one.  After that they showed the bees one card with no shapes, plus a card with a number of shapes.

Trained bees tended to choose the card with no shapes, even though they had not seen it before. The seemed able to detect the difference between one and zero, and they were even more likely to the fly to a zero card if it was paired with one with a higher number of shapes.  This last test indicates an understanding of what is termed “numerical distance effect”, meaning they interpret the zero card as a number to be compared with other numbers, rather than just being different.

According to Scarlett Howard, one of the researchers from RMIT, “That’s quite an important thing to have if you want to say that an animal or a human considers ‘nothing’ as having a quantitative value.”

Aurore Avarguès-Weber of University of Toulouse in France, commented: “The discovery that bees can show such elaborated understanding of numbers was really surprising given their tiny brain. Large brains are thus not necessary to play with numbers. This capacity is therefore probably shared by many other animals.”

The Science Editor’s Summary commented: “This finding suggests such an understanding has evolved independently in distantly related species that deal with complexity in their environments, and that it may be more widespread than previously appreciated.”

ABC, Nature, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment:  We have known for a long time that bees are remarkably smart, having to navigate complex environments, assess the availability and quality of flowers for nectar and pollen, and then communicate this to other bees using their famous dance technique. For an animal with such a tiny brain this is impressive.

What is not impressive is that creatures with a mega-brain by comparison can ignore the fact that information collection, analysis and processing are no more likely to have “evolved independently in distantly related species”, than multiple lumps of inert machinery wrote their own code and began functioning as computers by themselves.

Information processing in bees’ brains (and any other brains) is powerful evidence that bees and brains were created by the original source of all information – the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator who calls himself the Word.

Evidence News vol. 18 No. 6
13 June 2018
Creation Research Australia

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