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How animals understand numbers influences their chance of survival

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While they can't pick out precise numbers, animals can comprehend that more is, well, more. From birds to bees and wolves to frogs, animals use numbers to hunt, find a mate, return to their home, and more—and researchers believe that this ability to process and represent numbers, known as numerical competence, plays an important role in how animals make these decisions and influences an animal's chance of survival. In a Review publishing March 30 in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Andreas Nieder, a neurobiologist at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, explores the current literature on how different animal species comprehend numbers and the impact on their survival, arguing that we won't fully understand the influence of numerical competence unless we study it directly.

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