dog blog regarding how dogs perceive time. This post is all about whether animals are able to learn and plan without having an understanding of time.
Compared to us (human beings) animals have abilities to understand time to lesser extent. Humans have two distinctive abilities to comprehend time, viz. (1) ability to remember the sequence of events that had occurred in the past, and (2) ability to analyst the requirement that we may come across in the future. Experiments on working memory tests on animals have shown that animals also have these two abilities, but not as extensively as humans.
Researchers have experimented on the working memories (short term memories) and reference memories (long term memories) of animals in order to test how do animals remember the sequences of evens. Good news is that the animals performed quite well in those tests, but the researchers concluded that their memory faded out at a fast rate. According to the scientist William Roberts, who had experimented on animal memories, "animals were probably learning going from weakest memory to strongest memory, rather than actually 'learning' or 'remembering' a sequence."
Some of the other scientists who have been working on the similar kind of experiments, found that monkeys and pigeons did fairly good at the reference memories, which is the long term memories, in which they had been tested to check how well they could remember a sequence after a delayed time span between learning and testing. In this regarding Roberts said that they required extensive training session to learn these sequences. Roberts said, "the ability did not come naturally to them." Hence the researchers have concluded that animals would perceive time, but in a different way from humans. Compared to human beings animals have been seen to have a relatively less reliable and less sophisticated memory that help them to remember of sequence of events.
At the same time the researchers concluded that animals do not have good abilities to anticipate future needs, with which the researchers have drawn the conclusion that animals do not have any concept of future. Experiments on rates and pigeons have shown that they "chose a smaller immediate reward over the larger future reward", which directly proved that animals do not have ability to comprehend and plan the future. Another experimentation on primates had been carried out given a choice of "One (1) banana" and "Two (2) bananas". The primates picked the larger quantity - that is two bananas. Now when experiment had been carried out once again with five (5) and ten (10) bananas, in which the primates chose the lesser quantity, that is 5 bananas. Researchers William Roberts concluded that animals try to satisfy their immediate hunger, and do not have the ability to plan for the future.
Now all these experiments and their conclusions seem to be quite convincing. But if animals do not have the ability OR is they have less sophisticated ability to comprehend and plan for the future, why and how do ants tend to collect and gather enough food stuff before they go to hibernation during the winter?