The next time you want to yell at your little brother or sister for doing things like mistaking mothballs for Mentos chews, please note that “YOU PIG!!” or “PIG-BRAIN!” do not qualify as insults replacing the words ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’. Yes, it has been proven, that the average human simply does not do justice to pig intelligence. In case you’re wondering—yes—such a thing actually exists.
According to Donald Broom of the University of Cambridge in England, who studies animal cognition and welfare, pigs, Sus scrofa, given a chance to experiment with mirrors first can later learn to find food based only on a mirror’s reflection.
In a test carried out by Broom and his colleagues, four pairs of pigs were “given five hours to check out a mirror in a pen. Then each pig was penned with a mirror that was angled so it reflected a bowl of apple slices or M&M’s on the other side of a partition.” When the test subjects were allowed to freely roam around the area, seven out of the eight went behind the partition and found the food. Most subjects in a control group that had no previous experience with a mirror before poked around behind it, as if they were searching for food there.
This finding “indicates assessment awareness in pigs”. Perhaps this is why, in the story of The Three Little Pigs, the third little pig had enough foresight to build his house of bricks—he probably peeked at the sorry fates of his siblings in the mirror he used to brush himself in daily and decided that he was too pretty to become a meal of the big bad wolf. Face it. Pigs ARE intelligent animals. So be sure your next insult doesn’t become an accidental compliment.
“Pigs and mirrors” by J. F. Englert. The Intelligent Dog’s Guide To A Troubled Universe. URL: http://www.adogabouttown.com/?p=618 (accessed 04 April 2010)
“Pigs Use Mirrors” by Susan Milius. ScienceNews, 7 October 2009. Hosted on Science News: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/48133/title/Pigs_use_mirrors (accessed 04 April 2010)
Donald M. Broom, Hilana Sena and Kiera L. Moynihan, 2009. Pigs learn what a mirror image represents and use it to obtain information. Animal Behaviour, 78(5): 1