Pigeons can identify breast cancer and SORRY, WHAT?!

The flying rats have a greater purpose after all…

In today’s WTF news, pigeons can apparently detect breast cancer just as well as us humans can. Which is quite frankly blowing our pigeon-sized brains.

With training, the birds did just as well as humans in a study testing their ability to distinguish cancerous from healthy breast tissue samples. The pigeons were able to correctly spot tumours in unseen microscope images.

"Pigeons can distinguish identities and emotional expressions on human faces, letters of the alphabet, misshapen pharmaceutical capsules, and even paintings by Monet vs Picasso," said Prof Edward Wasserman from the University of Iowa, a co-author of the study.

"Their visual memory capacity is equally impressive, with a proven recall of more than 1,800 images."

Each bird was taught to distinguish microscope images of cancerous and non-cancerous tissue, by being rewarded with a food pellet, only when a correct answer was provided.

The birds learned to recognise tumours at a range of magnifications and image compression levels, as well as in the absence of colour.

Pigeon at work:

Bird brain – actually pretty impressive and, (asking for a friend), does this mean they’re more intelligent than us?!


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