(STUDY FINDS) -- ITHACA, N.Y. — When it comes to intelligence, a certain species of wasp flies above the majority of insects found on our planet. Researchers at Cornell University have made the groundbreaking discovery that the Northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus) has evolved the remarkable ability to recognize individual faces among its own kind. While that may not sound all that fancy to us humans, in the insect world that is an incredible and exceedingly rare feat.
Using population genomics, the study’s authors discovered that the Northern paper wasp’s ever evolving intelligence has served as an invaluable survival resource for the species. Moreover, these findings represent an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to tracing how intelligence evolves over time, not only among wasps but in a variety of other species — including humans.
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“The really surprising conclusion here is that the most intense selection pressures in the recent history of these wasps has not been dealing with climate, catching food or parasites but getting better at dealing with each other,” says senior author Michael Sheehan, professor of neurobiology and behavior, in a release. “That’s pretty profound.”