In life after people raccoons will do just fine.
In the new study, the researchers presented captive raccoons with a cylinder containing a floating marshmallow that was too low to grab. Next, they showed the raccoons how dropping stones in the water would raise the marshmallow.
Two of the eight raccoons successfully repeated the behavior, dropping the stones to get the marshmallow. A third took matters into her own hands: She climbed onto the cylinder and rocked it until it tipped over, giving her access to the sweet treat.
“That was something we hadn’t predicted. It reaffirms how innovative and how creative they are in problem-solving.” –Lauren Stanton, a Ph.D. student, University of Wyoming
In another experiment, the same eight raccoons were given balls that would sink or float. The scientists thought their subjects would use the sinking balls to displace the water.
The floating ball shouldn’t work, “unless you’re a raccoon, and can turn a non-functional object into a functional object,” says study co-author Sarah Benson-Amran, director of the Animal Behavior and Cognition Lab at the University of Wyoming.
The two raccoons that aced the other tasks excelled yet again, discovering that pushing up and down on the floating balls “would splash bits of marshmallow up the sides of the tubes,” says Stanton, whose study appeared in the November issue of the journal Animal Cognition.
One literally put his own spin on things, seeming to “spin the ball in place” and eating the marshmallow that collected on the ball, Stanton says.
Though the raccoons didn’t necessarily excel at the Aesop’s Fable test, they did show incredibly innovative approaches.
Journal source: Stanton, L., et al. Adaptation of the Aesop’s Fable paradigm for use with raccoons (Procyon lotor): considerations for future application in non-avian and non-primate species. Animal Cognition Journal, 2017 Nov; 20(6):1147-1152.
doi: 10.1007/s10071-017-1129-z. Epub 2017 Sep 29. Source