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Do animals have a sense of competition?

Humans do the wildest things to animals—stick them with experimental drugs, mash them into cheap nuggets, mount their severed heads on dining room walls. Against this backdrop of chaos and mass extermination the Puppy Bowl seems fairly benign, as do all those other events, like the Kentucky Derby, where animals are forced to play sports for our amusement. We know that humans like these games, especially when their bets pay off; but how do the animals feel? What’s, say, on a horse’s mind, when it finishes first in a race? Can an animal have some sense that it’s won something, or, for that matter, lost?

For this week’s Giz Asks, we set out to learn exactly that, speaking with psychologists, biologists and animal scientists who have spent their lives trying to understand these stubbornly untalkative creatures. As it turns out, animals do have some sense of whether they’ve won or lost a given game, despite not quite knowing what a game actually is. [Continue reading at Gizmodo]

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