This week a story on the site Alphr revealed that gambling is not exclusively a human trait, as both plants and apes have proven to exhibit gambling behaviors if they feel that the odds are in their favor.
The story revealed that researchers followed pea plants and chimpanzees, giving the peas a set of planting pots with various nutrients in each and the chimps got a selection of nuts and fruits. Both exhibited the ability to take a risk, with the pea plants taking a gamble by opting to move to a pot where the possibility of higher nutrients was, while the chimps were given the choice of selecting two pieces of fruit or a handful of nuts. The chimps were then given a repeat choice, but with a 50% chance of getting only one piece of fruit, and a third time where they were given one piece of fruit but had a 50% chance of getting an extra piece of fruit. The chimps overwhelmingly played it safe, opting for a pleasant surprise, but still showing a sense of gambling behavior.
Commenting on the plants' behavior, the study's co-author Alex Kacelnik said, "To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of an adaptive response to risk in an organism without a nervous system."
"We do not yet know how the plants' sense variance functions, or even if their physiology is specifically adapted to respond to risk, but the findings lead us to look even at pea plants as dynamic strategists and to model their decision processes just as one would model an intelligent agent."