This Cuttlefish Probably Has More Patience Than Your Toddler

A bunch of cephalopods just passed cognitive tests created for children.

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When my daughter wants a treat, she wants it now. Yes, my wife and I can convince her to wait for dessert, but as any parent of a child knows, convincing kids to delay their gratification, and avoid a tantrum is tricky business, not dissimilar from watching 007 disarm a bomb. But it turns out, a close-cousin of octopuses (yes, that plural is fine), the cuttlefish, can delay their gratification, and in doing so, pass a cognitive test designed for small children. And, as far as I can tell, these cuttlefish aren’t throwing fits about it.

According to ScienceAlert, a recent study proved that cuttlefish can pass a version of what’s called “the marshmallow test.” For children, the test is simple: You can either eat one marshmallow right now or wait 15 minutes and you’ll get two. “Obviously you can’t tell an animal they’ll get a better reward if they wait,” ScienceAlert points out. “But you can train them to understand that better food is coming if they don’t eat the food in front of them straight away.”

It appears that cuttlefish are able to hold off on eating crab meat if they know shrimp is coming. According to Alexandra Schnell of the University of Cambridge, this indicates that cuttlefish demonstrate some degree of self-control. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these octopi cousins (again, correct) are totally sentient and posed to take over the world. But, it does mean that adorable sea creatures can wait for their treats.

Because my daughter has an unending love for the adorable sea creatures on Octonauts, I am going to use this new University of Cambridge study as a parenting tool. Guess what, you can wait for your dessert, and you know why? Even the cuttlefish know how to wait! If the sea animals can do it, so can you!

I doubt this will work. I wouldn’t trade my kid for a cuttlefish. But, if we’re lucky maybe some of these wonderful sea creatures will be a good influence. If we can’t model good behavior, I guess creatures from the deep will have to step-in.

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