Wasps are smarter than we thought; Capable of logical thinking, says new study


A new study has revealed that wasps are capable of logical thinking. The study carried out by researchers at the University of Michigan found that wasps are not only pesky but smart in all aspects.

During the study, researchers noted that wasps can use a form of logical reasoning to infer unknown relationships from known relationships. In layman terms, it can be explained that wasps can easily understand, "if A is greater than B, and B is greater than C, then A is greater than C". It should be noted that this logical thinking ability was thought to be a key human trait for thousands of years.

This trait is known as transitive interference, and it was only recently that scientists found this peculiar logical thinking ability among some birds, monkeys, and fishes. It should be noted that all these animals are vertebrates, and it is only paper wasps which are the invertebrates that found its place in this elite league.

During the study, researchers used color pairs that the insects had to familiarize themselves with. Out of these color pairs, one of the colors provided a small electric zap, while the other did not. After some time, the paper wasps learned which color was safe and which was not. Later, scientists introduced a new color for these wasps to learn. Later, these colors were intermixed into novel pairs, and interestingly, these wasps successfully picked safe colors which were free from electric zaps. This finding suggested that wasps learned which colors were safe, and they applied the knowledge when they saw a new variable.

"We're not saying that wasps used logical deduction to solve this problem, but they seem to use known relationships to make inferences about unknown relationships. Our findings suggest that the capacity for complex behavior may be shaped by the social environment in which behaviors are beneficial, rather than being strictly limited by brain size," said Elizabeth Tibbetts, an evolutionary biologist with the University of Michigan and the lead author of the study in a recent statement, Phys.org reports.

Researchers are now planning to conduct more studies to know why wasps possess this ability, while honeybees do not have this capability.

A few months back, another study conducted by a team of French and Australian researchers had found that honeybees are capable of understanding the concept of zero. This new finding made honeybees enter the league of dolphins, monkeys, birds, and humans that could also understand the concept of zero.

The study was published in the journal Biology Letters.