“Geneticists evolve fruit flies with the ability to count”
July 12, 2012
A team of geneticists has announced that they have successfully bred fruit flies with the capacity to count.
After repeatedly subjecting fruit flies to a stimulus designed to teach numerical skills, the evolutionary geneticists finally hit on a generation of flies that could count — it took 40 tries before the species’ evolution occurred. The findings, announced at the First Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology in Canada, could lead to a better understanding of how we process numbers and the genetics behind dyscalculia — a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to count and do basic arithmetic.
What do they mean by “count”"?
The flies were exposed to two, three or four flashes of light, with two or four flashes coinciding with a shake of the container the flies were kept in. Following a pause, the flies were again subjected to the flashing light, however none prepared themselves for a repeat of the shake since they could not discern a difference between two, three or four flashes. That is, until the key 40th generation of descendants were put to the test.
Obligatory and Awesomely Relevant Uncle John Counting Fruit Fly Joke:
Q: What did the fruit fly say when it learned how to count?
A: Hey Mr. Tally man, tally me banana…
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