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A trio of researchers with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, the Hebrew University and Tiergarten Schönbrunn, Maxingstrasse, has found that giant tortoises are not only trainable, but have long memories. In their paper published in the journal Animal Cognition, Tamar Gutnick, Anton Weissenbacher and Michael Kuba describe training exercises they carried out with the huge tortoises and what they learned from them.
As the researchers note, little study has been carried out regarding turtle intelligence—and most of the studies that have been conducted have focused on marine turtles. Because of that, very little is known about giant tortoises that live on land. What is known is that they sometimes travel long distances in the wild, interact infrequently with others of their kind, and live a very long time—sometimes up to 100 years. Because of their ability to travel long distances, the researchers suspected that the giant turtles of the Galapagos and Aldabra Islands likely have a good memory—they seemed to remember the path to intended destinations and how to get back. Because of that, the researchers set up an experiment...
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