A new study from the University of Toulouse found that intelligence and learning aren’t limited to organisms with brains. By studying the mold P. polycephalum they found it can, over time, learn to navigate even irritating environments.
Ant colonies are incredibly complex systems — the tightly knit, intensely cooperative colonies are closer to a single superorganism than to human societies. Researchers form the University of Bristol wanted to know how this single mind of the hive reacted to distress, and subjected colonies of migrating rock ants to differing forms of simulated predator attack to record their response.
Single cell amoebae can remember, make decisions and anticipate change, urging researchers to redefine what we perceive as intelligence as soon as possible. For gardeners, they are usually a pest, for some hikers, a nice view, and for researchers, they are protists, a taxonomic group reserved for “everything we don’t really understand,” says Chris Reid of the University of Sydney.