Dons
News

Tortoises may be slow – but they have good memories, according to University of Derby research

Tortoises may be slow – but they have good memories, according to University of Derby research

IT is said that an elephant never forgets but now research by the University of Derby reveals that tortoises have good memories too.

Scientists found that the reptiles use signs as cues to choose which direction to head in.

The study was conducted to determine if Greek tortoises could discriminate between different shapes, enabling them to navigate their way to freedom.6917580-large

A number of wild Greek tortoises were placed in a box with four exits, each with a different shape on it and only one of which opened.

  Each tortoise was tested ten times and the time it took them to escape was significantly reduced by the last trial. The results suggest that the tortoises used the shapes as cues, enabling them to escape more quickly each time.

The research was conducted by Derby zoology graduate Alexandra Glavaschi and lecturer in vertebrate biology, Nel Beaumont, as part of Alexandra’s independent studies project.

It has since been accepted for publication in the journal Basic and Applied Herpetology.

Alexandra said: “We were amazed with the results generated from my independent studies project, not only did we generate some insightful findings but it’s a fantastic achievement to have been included in the journal.”6917617-large

Nel added: “This was the first experimental work exploring such cognitive processes in this species, and we are pleased with the results.

« Alexandra has been an outstanding independent studies project student, really wanting to find answers to interesting questions in reptilian cognition. I hope future work will expand on the ecological significance of the results and further develop this insight.”