by Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
There are three bright blue walls displayed on a black screen. Move the cursor to a wall, the computer goes bloop! and a treat pops out. After some success, one wall disappears. With only two walls, it’s a little bit harder. Then, after more bloops and treats, the screen drops down to one blue wall.
For a pig moving the joystick with its snout, it takes serious skills to get the cursor to that one blue wall.
But four pigs, named Omelet, Hamlet, Ivory and Ebony could do just that. A paper published on February 11 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology documents how the four pigs at Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science learned to play the simple video game. In many cases, the pigs performed significantly better than if they were moving the joystick at random. It is the first peer-reviewed paper to come out of pig-gamer research that has been running since the 1990s, Isaac Schultz reports for Gizmodo, and it is one of many examples of pigs’ formidable intelligence.