One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish…
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
Have some raisins? Eww, no. Avocado, cheese, or nummy tuna melt? Darnit! Are cuttlefish as picky as toddlers when choosing a snack?
Tzu-Hsin Kuo and Chuan-Chin Chiao from National Tsing Hua University gave them a taste test.
First, the researchers trained the cuttlefish to associate ONE large shrimp with their favorite snack. The team did this by switching out the one large shrimp with a smaller, yummier one. This raised the VALUE of the one shrimp option.
Then, they gave the cuttlefish the choice between ONE or TWO shrimps, with NO rewards this time. Will they choose quality or quantity?
The winner is….QUALITY! Trained cuttlefish picked ONE shrimp over TWO more often. They knew they would get their favorite snack instead. If NOT trained, they chose quantity – two shrimps. Not only can cuttlefish COUNT, they REMEMBER past rewards to inform their choices!
Cuttlefish are smart cookies…and picky eaters. Well, not picky but STRATEGIC! Word is still out on kale chips.
Reference: Kuo, T.-H., & Chiao, C.-C. (2020). Learned valuation during forage decision-making in cuttlefish. Royal Society Open Science, 7(12), 201602. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.201602