December 12th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh
Here's a great story and just in time for Christmas. Resarchers at The University of Chicago did a series of experiments to demonstrate that other animals (besides humans) can be kind, compassionate and unselfish.
They used pairs of rats. One rat was locked in a tube and the other was free outside the tube. Free rats were able to figure out how to liberate their imprisoned pals.
So they did. Pretty cool, right?
But the amazing thing is that even when a favorite treat (chocolate chips!) was placed on the scene, the free rats unlocked their friends FIRST even though they subsequently had to share! “Basically they told us (freeing another rat) is as important as eating chocolate,” said study author Peggy Mason of the University of Chicago. “That’s a very striking thing. In some cases, the rats first took the chocolate chips out of a container, but didn’t eat them, then freed the other rat and shared “almost as if they were serving them chocolate.”
So Ken says the lesson is to eat chocolate chips with your friends this Chirstmas, but there might just be something more that we could learn from rats.
Oh, I wasn't going to mention this but it IS a critical part of the study. Female rats freed their pals every time. 17 of the 24 males did and… sadly… there were days when the male rats took the day off from helping their trapped partner althogether. But the females never did.