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See Inside Scientific American Volume 309, Issue 6

Honeybees Can Recognize Individual Human Faces

honeybee perspective of a human face



Sue Williams and Adrian Dyer

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The ability to tell individual faces apart was long thought to be exclusive to large-brained mammals. But in recent years a number of studies have shown that, in fact, some wasps can facially recognize one another. And honeybees can learn human faces, too. In their article in the December issue of Scientific American, biologists Elizabeth Tibbetts of the University of Michigan and Adrian Dyer of RMIT University in Melbourne describe these findings and what they reveal about the neural requirements for seemingly complex cognitive tasks.

The image depicts how a honeybee sees the features of a human face. Researchers created the image with a mechano-optical array of 5,000 individual imaging tubes, each of which represents one of the facets of an insect’s compound eye.

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