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date: 27 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In the last decade, several studies have suggested that dozens of animal species are capable of processing numerical information. Animals as diverse as mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, and even some invertebrates have been successfully investigated through extensive training and the observation of spontaneous behaviour, providing evidence that numerical abilities are not limited to primates. The study of non-primate species represents a useful tool to broaden our comprehension of the uniqueness of our cognitive abilities, particularly with regard to the evolutionary roots of the mathematical mind. In this chapter, I will summarize the current state of our understanding of non-primate numerical abilities in the comparative literature, focusing on three main topics: the relationship between discrete (numerical) and continuous quantity, the debate surrounding the existence of a precise subitizing-like process, and the ontogeny of numerical abilities.

Keywords: animal cognition, continuous quantities, subitizing, ontogeny, mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, invertebrates

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