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Problem-Solving Lizards

August 15, 2011

Some lizards can solve problems as well as birds and mammals.



Lizards that learn…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Next time someone calls you a lizard brain, maybe you should say “thanks!” A new study shows that some lizards can solve problems just as well as birds and mammals. Manuel Leal, a behavioral ecologist at Duke University, studied anole lizards native to Puerto Rico. He and his colleagues tasked them with finding a tasty worm hidden under one of two colored caps. Leal says the lizards figured out how to remove the cap — behavior they don’t show in the wild.

MANUEL LEAL (Duke University):

When we first saw it, I was like – oh – this is really surprising because it’s just using something that you really don’t see in nature. It’s a completely new modification to be able to solve this problem.


What’s more, the lizards were able to both learn and remember how to do the task.


This idea that lizards are not relatively smart is actually most likely not correct. They actually look to be behaving in a way that is not robotic as most people like to think.


I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.