Rodents sacrifice sweets to jailbreak their friends
According to a study published in the December 9, 2011, issue of Science, rats can be surprisingly selfless.
University of Chicago neuroscientist Peggy Mason and psychologists Inbal Ben-Ami Bartal and Jean Decety placed pairs of rats in pens. One rat was caged in the middle of the pen, whereas the other was free to run around. In this experiment, 23 of 30 rats liberated their peers by head butting the cage door or leaning against the door until it tipped over.
To actually test the rodents’ selflessness, Mason placed rats in pens with two cages: in one was another rat; in the other was a pile of chocolate chips. The unhindered rats could easily have eaten the chocolate themselves. Instead most of the rodents opened both cages and shared the sweets. “In rat land, that is big,” Mason says. This is the first study to show altruistic behavior in rodents.
via Scientific American – Ferris Jabr
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