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谁是最机智的肉食动物?

Some Carnivores Are Better Than Others at Unlocking Dinner
谁是最机智的肉食动物?

Spotted hyenas are the animals that got Sarah Benson-Amram thinking about how smart carnivores are and in what ways.

斑点鬣狗导致Sarah Benson-Amram思考肉食动物有多聪明,其智力在哪些方面得到体现。

Dr. Benson-Amram, a researcher at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, did research for her dissertation on hyenas in the wild under Kay E. Holekamp of Michigan State University.

Benson-Amram博士是拉勒米市怀俄明州立大学的一名研究人员,在密歇根州立大学生物博士Kay E. Holekamp的带领下,她在野外调查鬣狗以完成她的学位论文。

Hyenas have very complicated social structures and they require intelligence to function in their clans, or groups. But the researchers also tested the animals on a kind of intelligence very different from figuring out who ranks the highest: They put out metal boxes that the animals had to open by sliding a bolt in order to get at meat inside.

鬣狗有着复杂的社会结构,并且他们需要一定智力才能在族群或团体中生存。然而研究人员们的试验不是为了比较谁最聪明,而是检测一种特别的能力:他们把肉放在箱子里,动物们只有打开箱门上的插销才能吃到肉。

Only 15 percent of the hyenas solved the problem in the wild, but in captivity, the animals showed a success rate of 80 percent.

结果只有15%的野生鬣狗解决了这个难题,驯养动物的成功率则高达80%。

Dr. Benson-Amram and Dr. Holekamp decided to test other carnivores, comparing species and families. They and other researchers presented animals in several different zoos with a metal puzzle box with a treat inside and recorded the animals’ efforts. 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com

Benson-Amram博士和Kay E. Holekamp博士决定对其他种类科目的肉食动物进行对比试验。研究团队在多个动物园中进行了相同的试验——给动物装有食物的金属箱,并记录下了它们的行为表现。

They tested 140 animals in 39 species that were part of nine families. They reported their findings on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

他们一共对140个分属39个不同物种、9个生物科目的动物进行了实验。 在星期一的《美国国家科学院院刊》杂志中,调查团队报道了他们的发现。

They compared the success rates of different families with absolute brain size, relative brain size, and the size of the social groups that the species form in the wild.

他们利用单独大脑尺寸、相对大脑尺寸和物种在野外建立的社会群体大小比较了不同科动物进行试验的成功率。

Just having a bigger brain did not make difference, but the relative size of the brain, compared with the size of the body, was the best indication of which animals were able to solve the problem of opening the box.

仅仅拥有较大的脑体并没有比较出任何不同,大脑的相对大小同身体大小的对比才是决定动物们是否能解决问题打开箱子的主要因素。

Bears did the best, followed by the family that includes raccoons and coatimundis, results that any homeowner who has garbage cans out in the yard might expect. The family that includes weasels and otters came in third.

    蛐蛐英语 www.qqenglish.com

熊类的测试结果最好;其次是浣熊科——任何将垃圾箱留在院子里的房主都知道它们有多机灵。包括黄鼠狼和水獭在内的鼬科排名第三。

The researchers expected that result, but they were surprised by another finding. Animals that lived in complex social groups did not do particularly well.

调查人员预计到了这个结果,但一个新发现令他们出乎意料:生活在复杂社会群体的动物在实验中并没有表现出优势。

Sadly, for any fan of “Meerkat Manor,” the family Herpestidae, which includes meerkats and mongooses, was the least successful at solving the puzzles.

让“猫鼬庄园”粉丝失望的是,獴家族(包括獴哥和猫鼬)是在此次解题过程中最失败的参赛选手。

Dr. Holekamp said that the result did not support an idea called the social brain hypothesis that living in complex social groups leads to increased relative brain size and problem solving ability. But Robin Dunbar at the University of Oxford, the anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist who proposed the hypothesis, said it was already known that it did not apply to carnivores.

Holekamp博士说试验结果并没有支持“社会脑假说”中所提出的“复杂的社会群体可以促进大脑进化和提升解决问题的能力”理论。提出此假说的牛津大学人类学家及演化心理学家Robin Dunbar声称,“社会脑假说”理论已经被发现无法在肉食动物身上应用。

Dr. Holekamp said the findings add to evidence that intelligence is not one quality, and that different tasks depend on different parts of the brain and different abilities. Keeping track of a social hierarchy is one thing, whereas solving a physical puzzle is something else entirely.

但是Holekamp博士认为本次的实验进一步证明“智力不是单一因素”。面对不同的问题,大脑中的不同部位及不同能力都是影响因素之一。社会等级制度是一方面,解决物理问题则是件截然不同的事。

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