Scientists say that chickens are capable of empathy

March 9th, 2011 - 8:36 pm ICT by Aishwarya Bhatt  

New York, Mar 9 (THAINDIAN NEWS) Scientists claim that chickens have the ability to feel the pains of others.

The correct term for such feeling is empathy and for a very long time people believed that it was the sole trait of the human race. This is the first time that such a trait has been found in chickens and the researchers believe that it might be a piece of good news for other farm animals.

The scientists studied the moods of hens in the research. The researchers used several techniques like ruffling the feathers of chicks and others to test the reaction of the mother. Signs like heart rate, eye temperature and alert levels were all checked. During the ‘torment’ of the chicks, the hens’ heart rate increased, their alert level went up and their eye temperature dropped- a sign of increased stress.

The research team was led by Jo Edgar from the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol. Edgar said that, “We found that adult female birds possess at least one of the essential underpinning attributes of ‘empathy’, the ability to be affected by, and share, the emotional state of another.”

The study was published in the online journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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