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Cockroaches have personality, study reveals


Insects even have character traits such as bravery and shyness - which may explain their incredible adaptability and survival.

If you're one of those who steps on a cockroach and thinks you're crushing a simple-minded critter with limited cognitive abilities, then a recent study may make your conscience a little heavier.

Researchers at the Free University of Brussels have found that insects are far more complex than they seem, and even have their own personality and character, and may exhibit traits such as bravery and shyness.

Perhaps this explains why they are so resilient and can adapt to extremely harsh environments. “Cockroaches are simple animals, but they can come to a complex decision. With little information and interactions, knowing only if they have a partner in place or not, only with this kind of information can they make difficult decisions, ”said Issac Planas, the project's lead researcher, Reuters.


Experiment evaluated cockroach propensity to hide from light.

The group studied the cockroach's reaction when exposed to light: each turn, 16 insects stayed in a circular arena for three hours, located under a very bright light source. Two round shelters have been installed in the center to provide shade for light-averse animals.

They are also known to have affinity with being in groups and in protected places. The behavior was then monitored through a camera and chips implanted in the back of cockroaches, which sent the data to a computer so that researchers could track whether they were facing the light or housed in hiding. The experiment was repeated twice more at future dates.

Planas explained that the purpose of his team with the insect group was to understand behavioral variations and how the group came to a decision. Contrary to expectations that everyone would quickly hide under cover, the scientists noted that the time for this to happen varied among different groups - but the "gathering" in the shadow invariably occurred in all cases at the end of the experiment. The group always came to a consensus in the end, a pattern similar to that found in animals such as bats, sheep, and some monkey species.

The result of the variation was attributed to differences in personality and behavior: if a cockroach were faster to hide, for example, it might influence others to do the same faster. However, unlike animals with social hierarchies, such as bees and ants, each individual was responsible for their final choice to remain exposed to light or not.

According to the researchers, different personalities may explain the formidable ability to adapt to different environments: “braver” cockroaches venture out and explore new places, while others stay behind and check if their surroundings are safe.

Note: The survey reminded us of this GIF:

(//revistagalileu.globo.com/Ciencia/Biologia/noticia/2015/03/rates-have-personality-reveals-study.html)