June 26, 2013 11:13 am
Unassuming plants don’t seem to occupy a high intellectual sphere, but it turns out they may be better at math than many humans. According to new research, plants perform complex arithmetic calculations each evening in order to make sure they have enough resources to make it through the sunless night. Reuters reports:
Scientists at Britain’s John Innes Centre said plants adjust their rate of starch consumption to prevent starvation during the night when they are unable to feed themselves with energy from the sun.
They can even compensate for an unexpected early night.
During the night, mechanisms inside the leaf measure the size of the starch store and estimate the length of time until dawn. Information about time comes from an internal clock, similar to the human body clock.
Arithmetic, the researchers say, is a vital component of a plant’s ability to grow and thrive.
Not to be outdone by plants, the animal kingdom is full of examples of creatures who use mathematics in their daily life or when put to the challenge, including ants, gorillas, squirrel monkeys, lemurs, elephants, dolphins, salamanders, and some birds and fish.
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