|Spatial and Olfactory Discrimination in Three-Banded Armadillos|
|Joy L. Vincent, Jennifer Vonk. Oakland University, Rochester, MI, United States
Armadillos are closely related to anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), which are considered to be one of the earliest placental mammals. A better understanding of learning and discriminatory abilities in armadillos will aid understanding of selection pressures on perception and cognition. Very few studies have examined the cognitive abilities of armadillos, but it is understood that they have a degenerate visual system, which they compensate for with a strong sense of smell. Many species are able to relocate burrows and find immediate safe cover when foraging. We tested the ability of four three-banded armadillos to discriminate two compound stimuli (each consisting of one scent and one location cue). Within six testing days, two armadillos reached a criterion of correctly selecting the baited location on 100% of trials over three consecutive days, indicating rapid learning of this discrimination. A subsequent test phase will allow us to determine to which cue they attended. In addition to laying the foundation for future studies, a better understanding of how armadillos find and remember food locations will help in mitigating human/wildlife conflict in areas that they inhabit.