A new approach to rodent performance evaluation
by Nikolas Gloy and Yasuhiro Endo, Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University
These researchers write at their website:
We simply tie peanuts to the end of the string (using slipknot). No hook was used and no squirrel was harmed during this "research."
This led to the formulation of Gloy's First Conjecture that a squirrel will always give up one acorn if another one is thrown nearby.
This led to our current approach to measure the reaction of squirrels to a peanut tied to a long piece of string. The low end of the performance scale includes not running away from a peanut thrown at the subject,
The next point on the performance scale is the willingness to grab the peanut and hold on to it under moderate tension.
A smarter squirrel will discover after a while that it is better to bite through the string than simply pull on the peanut. This distinguishing tactic leads us to believe that the average squirrel performance in Texas is much higher than in Massachusetts.
The highest mark on the squirrel performance scale is achieved when a subject is willing to hold on to the peanut or string while it is being lifted off the ground. This state only lasts for a very short time and is very difficult to photograph.
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