The scientific community previously thought that only humans and dolphins are the only species of mammals who possess higher brain functions. But according to a new study, it would seem that mammals are not the only ones who can dazzle everyone with their brain power. Plant-animals may possess higher brain functions just like humans and dolphins.
Mint-sauce worms they are called, and according to a new study performed by a team of scientists from the Bristol University, the critters might be intelligent. The mint-sauce worms or the Symsagittifere roscoffensis are a species of worms which are endemic Britain’s Atlantic Coast.
The worms have been named after their mint-green color. Moreover, the worms are also known as plant-animals because they live in symbiotic relationship with algae that lives inside their guts. Once exposed to the light of the Sun, the algae blooms, providing the worms with food and plenty of energy to fulfill their task.
Although many regard worms as the lowest life species, recent studies have stressed out that there is much we can learn from the common crawler. A couple of months ago, a team of researchers from the US has announced that they were successful in growing the head of a worm on another worm.
And now, thanks to this British study, it would seem that the little critters are actually much smarter than previously thought. Professor Nigel Franks, the leading author of the study, noted that the mint-sauce worm is actually capable of social behavior, a fact that was demonstrated using computer simulation.
Professor Franks pointed out the mint-sauce worms something amass into large groups in order to fulfill certain tasks which are hard and even impossible to achieve on their own.
Using the data collected on a group of worms, the professor and his team of researchers, created several computer simulations in order to determine if the mint-sauce worms are driven by instinct or by intelligence when they amass in great numbers.
The simulations revealed that the crowding was not arbitrary nor instinctual. In fact, the worms decided to amass in larger groups in order to fulfill certain tasks vital to their survival. They’ve also noted that this type of behavior was more visible in larger groups than in smaller groups.
Mint-sauce worms would use this crowding technique in order to coordinate certain activities. For instance, the worms must stay buried during nighttime, in order to conserve their energy. During the day time, the worms emerge from the ground and seek the comfort of the sun.
By amassing into groups, the mint-sauce worms can coordinate these processes in order to achieve maximum efficiency by using little energy. The scientists also noted that this crowding helps mint-sauce worms to fend off predators that may be lurking in the area.
The study, which was published on the 23rd of February 2016 in the journal Proceeding of the Royal Society B, concludes that plant-animals may possess higher brain functions due to their capacity of amalgamation, a fact that usually denotes intelligence.