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Raccoons can “See” with their Hands

Raccoons can Raccoons can "See" with their Hands

There’s a myth that raccoons wash their food. (Our North American raccoon’s species name, lotor , means washer in Latin.) But what they’re doing when they wet and rub an object is “seeing” it; it’s thought that water contact increases a raccoon’s tactile ability. When a raccoon wets and handles a crayfish, stone, worm, or clam, he’s gathering information: nearly two thirds the sensory data that he’s processing comes from cells that interpret various types of touch sensation. In other words, touch is as important a sense as hearing, smell, and sight.

Raccoons can "See" with their Hands - Neurodope

Raccoons are omnivorous, which many researchers believe has pushed raccoon brain development. Every object they come across has the potential to be food: this drive to acquire a wide variety of foods, scientists believe, has driven human brain development as well. As every teacher knows, children learn by touch, whether it’s building blocks or bouncing balls, and in cognitive development the sense of touch is vital to developing abstract understanding.

How did raccoons develop those incredible hands? They evolved around river and lake banks in South America where they had to use their forepaws to find food hidden under water or buried in mud and silt. The fingers of a raccoon’s forepaws are well-padded. Each has some four to five times more mechanoreceptor cells […]

Raccoons can “See” with their Hands

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