Reading Mules are smarter than donkeys and horses from which they are bred. This is what British researchers have found in memory tests on animals, which have a donkey to the father and a horse to the mother. The animals learn faster than horses and donkeys, the researchers were able to show. This shows a further quality of the pull and load animals, which are popular because of their endurance and resilience. The scientists each presented six pairs of buckets, donkeys and mules with buckets with different symbols. There was always food in one bucket, while the other was empty. The buckets were always used in the same mating that was repeatedly presented to the animals. The animals should learn to distinguish between the right symbol associated with food as a reward and the wrong symbol on the empty bucket. After several weeks, the mules were able to remember better than the horses and donkeys the symbols and distinguish them from each other.
The scientists attribute the increased intelligence of the mules to the fact that the best genes from both species come together in this mixed animal. While this has previously been proven for the size and endurance of the mules, this study also shows for the first time a connection between the mixture of genes of the two species and the improvement of intelligence. From an evolutionary point of view, however, this is not a particularly fortunate coincidence, as mules are infertile and can not pass on their abilities to offspring.
New Scientist, online service Original research by researchers: Leanne Proops (University of Sussex, Brighton) et al .: Animal Cognition, DOI: 10.1007 / s10071-008-0172-1 ddp / science.de? Uwe Thomanek