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IELTS Reading Passage – Ants could teach ants
Ants could teach ants
The ants are tiny and usually rest between rocks in the south coast of England. At the university of Bristol, these ants are transformed into research subjects in which they race along a tabletop foraging for food ,thereafter, commanding others after returning. To memorize landmarks, they presumably adhere to the sequence of their leader, darting this way along the route. Once the attendants got their bearings, further they proceeded to the next step in which they tapped the antenna of their leader prompting the lesson for moving forward. Primarily, the ants were only looking for food, however the researchers suggest that the careful way the captains led followers- thereby turning them into leaders in their own right -the very first example of a non-human animal exhibiting teaching behavior marked the Temnothorax albipennis ant.
“Tandem running is the suitable example of teaching to our knowledge, which is the first in a non-human animal, involves bidirectional review in between teacher and student” as said by Nigel Franks, professor of animal behavior and ecology, whose article on the ant educators was published last week in the journal Nature.When the paper was published,professor Marc Hauser, a psychologist and biologist and also one of the scientists who came up with the definition of teaching, said it was elusive whether the ants had learned a new skill or merely acquired new information.
Later, Franks conducted additional research and discovered that the leaders are also competing. Ants could find food more quickly if they were guided by leaders. However, the assistance comes at a cost to the leader who would have reached the meal four times faster if he hadn’t been hampered by a follower. As a result, the hypothesis that the leaders deliberately slowed down in order to pass the skills on to the followers seems to be plausible.The pupils who worked with him on the video project advocated his ideas.
However, opposing views still arose. Hauser discovered that mere communication of information is commonplace in the animal world. For example, you can consider a situation where a member uses an alarm to warn its fellow members about the presence of a predator. This method is costly and at same time it may attract the predator itself. But it allows others to flee to safety. “Would you call this teaching?” wrote Hauser. “The caller incurs a cost. The naive animals gain a benefit and new knowledge that better enables them to learn about the predator’s location than if the caller had not called. This happens throughout the animal kingdom, but we don’t call it teaching, even though it is clearly a transfer of information.”
Tim Caro, a zoologist, presented two cases of animal communication. He found that cheetah mothers that take their cubs along on hunts gradually allow their cubs to do more of the hunting -going, for example, from killing a gazelle and allowing young cubs to eat to merely tripping the gazelle and letting the cubs finish it off. At one level, such behavior might be called teaching -except the mother was not really teaching the cubs to hunt but merely facilitating various stages of learning. In another instance, birds watching other birds using a stick to locate food such as insects and so on, are observed to do the same thing themselves while finding food later.
Psychologists may study animal behavior in sections, according to Hauser, which would help them comprehend the evolutionary roots of human behavior. The challenge in determining whether other animals truly teach one another, he continued, is that human teaching entails a “theory of mind” in which teachers are aware that students lack knowledge. He questioned whether Frank’s leader ants were aware that the follower ants were ignorant. Could they simply have been that when the followers tapped them on the legs or abdomen, they just followed an instinctive rule to proceed? And did leaders that led the followers to food only to discover that it had been removed by the experimenter arouse the wrath of followers? That, Hauser said, would suggest that the followers were actually aware that the leader was more knowledgeable and not merely following an instinctive routine itself.
The controversy raged on, and for a good reason. If the existence of teaching in ants is confirmed, it suggests that teaching can arise in species with small brains. Rather than the constraints of brain capacity, it is likely that the value of information in social animals determines when teaching will evolve.
At McMaster University in Canada, a psychologist who studied animal behavior and social learning,Bennett Galef Jr maintained that ants were unlikely to have a “theory of mind”- meaning that the leaders and followers may have been following instinctive routines which were not based on an understanding of what was happening in another ant’s brain.He issued a caution that scientists may be barking up the wrong tree when they investigate examples of human like behavior in other animals, rather than the humanlike thought that underpins such behavior.
According to him, ant behavior isn’t always a reliable indicator of how people got to think the way they do because animals can behave similarly to humans even if they don’t have the same cognitive framework.
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Ants could teach ants IELTS Reading questions
Look at the following statements (Questions 1-5) and the list of people in the box below. Match each statement with the correct person, A, B, C or D. Write the correct letter, A, B, C or D, in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet. NB You may use any letter more than once.
- It’s a stretch to claim that ants can teach other ants in the same way that humans can.
- Ant communication isn’t totally instructive.
- Ant leadership makes finding food faster.
- Objects could be used by animals to locate food.
- Ants engage in two-way, interactive instruction.
List of People
A Nigel Franks
B Marc Hauser
C Tim Caro
D Bennett Galef Jr..
A-H are the letters to choose from.
Fill in boxes 6–9 on your answer sheet with your responses.
6. Which of the following is not an animal’s behavior?
- Touch each other with an antenna
- Alert others when there is danger
- Escape from predators
- Use tools like twigs
7. The research of competition between leaders was done by
- Marc Hauser
- Tim Caro
- Bennett Galef JR
8. Which professor found that ants were unlikely to have a “theory of mind”?
- Tim Caro
- Bennett Galef Jr
- Marc Hauser
9.How many times speedily would the leader have arrived at the meal if hadn’t been hampered by the follower?
- Eight times
- Two times
- Three times
- Four times
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Do some claims made by the author in Reading Passage match the following statements?
Fill in the blanks on your response sheet in boxes 10-13 with the following information:
YES, if the statement supports the writer’s claims.
If the statement contradicts the author’s claims, no.
If it is impossible to say what the author has to say about this, it will be NOT GIVEN.
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10. The teaching behavior of ants is similar to that of humans.
11. Cheetahs share their hunting spoils with their offspring.
12.Ants’ tandem running involves only one-way communication.
13.Frank’s theory got many supporters immediately after publicity.
Answers for an aging population
1. Answer: D
2. Answer: B
3. Answer: A
4. Answer: C
5. Answer: C
6. Answer: c
7. Answer: A
8. Answer: C‘
9. Answer: D
10. Answer: Not given
11. Answer: Yes
12. Answer: No
13. Answer: Not given
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