Prof Answers ‘Can Animals Count’ Question on CBC Program

Professor John Fryxell portrait

Prof. John Fryxell

Integrative biology professor John Fryxell was a guest on CBC’s Quarks and Quarks on Jan. 5, speaking on whether animals in the wild can count.

He explained that animals can be trained to evaluate how many objects are present, especially for a food reward. Predators like pack wolves may not actually count, but they can measure relative magnitude in terms of ratio, he said in response to a listener’s question.

Fryxell is interim director of U of G’s Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. His research on large herbivores and carnivores has taken him to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. His study of woodland caribou, wolves and moose has been carried out in the boreal forest region of northern Ontario.