How are you?
Hey, what's up?
Do you remember the last time you were at a bar or a cocktail party?
Oh gosh, it's been a year.
Do you remember how loud it could get?
And then imagine trying to find your friends in a crowded bar.
They're all the way across the room.
Could you find them just by their voice?
I don't think I could, but I have heard of this and I know where you're going.
It's the cocktail party effect, right?
Penguins use their tiny ears and they're wonderful little brains to filter the exact call of their mate or their chick from thousands or tens of thousands of other individuals.
And they do this of course, while wearing tuxedos Natalia.
All dressed up, but nowhere to go to show off their amazing intellect.
Welcome to Animal IQ, everyone.
In each episode of this show, we pick an animal and then we measure their intelligence in our intelligence rubric.
And this week we've got penguins.
Yep, and our rubric has five domains.
Each domain can be affected by genetics, evolution, and the environment.
And although comparing intelligence among animals can be tricky.
The rubric gives us kind of an idea of where an animal might fall according to science.
First, I'd like to mention the encephalization quotient for each of our animals.
EQ is a general indicator of intelligence like BMI for brains.
It means the brain to body mass ratio.
And in this case penguin's average about 0.9.
For comparison, humans range from 7.5 to 7.8. but remember raw size does not determine intelligence.
Penguins have extremely accurate senses of direction.
And that means they will do ridiculously well on our ecological means.
We should definitely max them out on both social and ecological domains.
They are master navigators with remarkable memory.
So they live in these massive colonies and King Penguin chicks have to navigate their way through these masses, back home to their parents.
And they don't even build nests.
It's just an area that they're navigating back to.
Even humans would find that pretty challenging and penguin babies.
They do this all the time.
The chicks can be displaced by predators or weather.
They can literally be blown away and they have to find their way back to their exact creche.
And the colony shifting and moving around.
That's thousands of bird shifting around, but these chicks have to navigate their way home through.
I just picture like an outdoor festival or concert.
You go to get food and then you have to find your way back to your blanket while holding it.
And you don't even know where to go.
And penguin chicks do this all the time.
And they use smells and visual cues like lakes and hills and information 47 00:02:36,050 --> 00:02:39,270 literally carried to them on the wind to find their way.
I'm an adult and I couldn't even do this, but 10 month old King penguin chicks are able to find their way to one square meter of space from half a kilometer away.
Where are the parents?
I'm glad you're wondering.
They're taking turns working with other penguins, cooperatively hunting and gathering fish to feed their chicks.
African Penguins actually hunt collectively in groups.
they gather food three times more efficiently than species that hunt solo.
They have to use rapid information processing to do this.
They have to predict where the fish are going to go.
They have to see the other penguins in this three-dimensional space while swimming, they can catch so many fish.
And so to learn more about how penguins see the world, I called an expert, Livio Favaro.
What I can tell you for the African penguin is that they live in a huge colony of hundred or thousands of individuals.
Basically during the foraging trips, when it's breeding season, small patches, small group of penguins of, let's say 10, 12, 20 penguins.
They leave the colony altogether and they go at sea foraging.
They use contact calls when they float on the sea surface to keep in touch to each other and they have complex hunting strategies.
When they dive, there is some kind of a social collective behavior in terms of foraging.
We have evidence that they basically, they react more to the incongruent calls, which means basically they are most surprised to hear a call, often individual.
And this means that they probably combine to be their mental representation of the conspecific not only acoustic cues, bbut as we do, also visual cues.
And who knows, probably also olefactory cues.
Which is some cognitive abilities that tell us that probably they have more complex cognitive skills that previously thought.
So we get it penguins amazing at social interaction, amazing mappers, but there's other cool things that they do, right?
The little Blue Penguin will even eavesdrop on fights.
So to gauge power dynamics in their colony and figure out who's winning in a fight they'll eavesdrop and eavesdropping males are less likely to challenge the winner of these fights.
That is definitely points for our eco measure.
I remember this study, it's incredible.
Researchers actually played calls from a winner and loser of like a penguin fight and use a fake egg with an infrared sensor in it to scan the penguins heartbeats.
So when they would play the calls of the big tough winning penguin, the other male hearts skyrocketed because they didn't want to mess with that one.
Honestly, though, I think we can all relate to this.
We've all been in this kind of situation.
I mean, before we were stuck at home all the time.
As long as we're talking about social domain scores, do the penguins can also follow the gaze of other penguins.
So if the penguin is checking something out, the other penguins will try to see what it's looking at.
Researchers use laser pointers to get the attention of one penguin, and then the other penguins would follow their gaze to try and check out what they're looking at.
It's like a penguin version of standing on a street corner doing this.
So that's a great bump in awareness as they can tell individuals apart.
But we don't know if they're aware that they are individuals themselves.
So when they look in a mirror.
It's a test that hasn't been done yet, at least not that we could find.
So let's look at our rubric and see how they score.
They score really high in a social category.
They make sounds for specific things like advertising when they win a fight, they eavesdrop on each other.
They can recognize each other's voices.
And they also score highly in the ecological domain.
They have these excellent mapping skills and are able to find their way back to their nest, through the masses.
All of that plus their ability to coordinate and hunt, even when they're underwater to eavesdrop on each other, to pick up on that local colony drama, which is so human, like, and of course they're always dressed to impress, right?
Natalia, with that in mind, I'd love to get your opinion on the penguin X-Factor.
I'd say we placed them fairly high.
I'm really impressed with them so far.
And there's still a lot of research to be done.
And honestly, I'm directionally challenged.
So if their navigational skills, I just am in awe.
First bird on Animal IQ and we knocked it out of the glacier park.
What animals should we look into next?
We've done birds, human friendly mammals.
What do you think?
What's your favorite animal?
Penguins are pretty high up on my list, but not my favorite.
Thanks for watching Animal IQ.
We'll see you next time.