Not only humans and birds, even fish know how to count at birth, or rather they know how to recognize numerical differences.
This is indicated by the Italian research coordinated by Tyrone Lucon-Xiccato, of the University of Ferrara, and published in the journal Communications Biology.
Conducted on newborn zebrafish, the study suggests the possibility that computational abilities are innate in all vertebrates.
"We performed a variety of tests on newborn zebrafish and the only way to explain their choices is that they somehow know how to count, or more precisely recognize the differences between two numerical quantities," said Lucon-Xiccato. to ANSA.
The research group also includes Elia Gatto, from the University of Ferrara, and Camilla Maria Fontana and Angelo Bisazza, from the University of Padua.
In the experiment, baby zebrafish were placed in tanks with stripes drawn on the walls to simulate the presence of plants in the water.
"In an innate way - added the Italian researcher - the fish always choose to go towards the walls where there is a greater number of stripes, probably because they consider it a more sheltered and safer place".
The experiments envisaged various combinations of stripes, even with variable widths, and each time it was possible to determine that the ability to identify the quantity of stripes always guided the choices.
"We know that many vertebrates, including man, already possess this ability in the very first stages of life - concluded Lucon-Xiccato - and discovering it also in fish embryos suggests that probably the ability to process numbers is due to a real neuronal circuit innate and common to all vertebrates. Probably the inheritance of a progenitor of all modern vertebrates".