Academic journal article Science and Children

Tortoises Master Touchscreen Technology

Academic journal article Science and Children

Tortoises Master Touchscreen Technology

Article excerpt

Tortoises have learned how to use touchscreens as part of a study that aimed to teach the animals navigational techniques.

The research, which was led by Anna Wilkinson, involved red-footed tortoises, which are native to Central and South America. The brain structure of reptiles is very different than that of mammals, which use the hippocampus for spatial navigation.

Instead, it is thought that the reptilian medial cortex serves as a homologue, although very little behavioral work has actually examined this. To understand how tortoises learn to navigate their environment, the researchers tested how the reptiles relied on cues to get around.

Wilkinson says, "Tortoises are perfect to study as they are considered largely unchanged from when they roamed the world millions of years ago. And this research is important so we can better understand the evolution of the brain and the evolution of cognition."

Wilkinson gave the tortoises treats such as strawberries when the reptiles looked at, approached, and then pecked blue circles on the screen.

Two of the tortoises, Esme and Quinn, went on to apply their knowledge to a real-life situation. …

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