We’ve already touched on the theory that zombies may hunt by sense of touch. Now ZRS contributor Jamie Baldwin suggests that they may also be learning as they navigate through their new world.  He points to a mountain of animal behavior research to support his argument:

“Animals of all shapes and sizes must learn through experience in order to survive. Dogs and cats learn to recognize their owners, and avoid predators. Mockingbirds learn who represents a threat to their nests, storing that information in their memory for future use. Even pigs need to learn what to eat and where to find food. Zombies may go through the same process.”

Baldwin goes on to suggest that zombies probably need to learn to hunt humans. They may reanimate with an overpowering desire to eat, but until they figure out that trees, rocks, garbage, and other zombies don’t satisfy their hunger, they would not yet have settled on people as their meal of choice.

If his theory is correct, the learning curve a zombie must go through in its early stages could provide a tactical advantage to the living. Unfortunately, the knowledge they gain over time that could have devastating repercussions for our chances of long term survival in a zombie outbreak.

Just imagine zombies that can figure out how to pick locks, sneak about, and even work together towards a common goal–not a pretty thought.

What do you think about this theory? Can zombies learn?


  1. If zombies were capable of learning they are no longer zombies. They will eventually find that they can survive without eating humans, would be able to create a society, and create. They would pretty much be the new breed of humans.

  2. I think if we see them as a long term threat it would make sense that they learned somethings as they went.

  3. I believe that they dont learn but go on instinct alone so they already know what to eat.

  4. By the same rationale, animals are also born with inherent abilities. A new born cow can stand up right away for instance, it doesn’t need to learn that skill. Maybe zombies don’t need to learn. Maybe it will have access to some of the memories previously stored in the brain. This article and all of the comments after it are speculation obviously, as we haven’t yet encountered an actual zombie.

  5. I don’t think they learn to eat people through trial and error. There’s no choice or survival instinct involved. They don’t care if the “survive” or perish. That’s why they’re so relentless.

  6. The first thing I think of when one uses the word zombie to describe somebody, I think of mentally compromised. at is basic level it would refer to someone who is just in a daze, and probably needs sleep, at it’s worst, it some who as brain damage, they can function, but whoever was their is now just a shell of their former self. There is also the people who are under mind-control, or brainwashing.

    So when we turn to the undead zombie, other then a walking corps, we also see someone with heave brain damage, that and the biting. Some learning would be possible, but it would be more in the area of being able to ignoring common noises, and recognizing other zombies. But one that can truly learn would be impossible, or it would be possible for them to retain the passed memory, possible even choose to not attack people. The proses of “dieing” would be enough to damage the brain well passed higher functions, so other then what the virus keeps, their is nothing but dead flesh.

  7. The idea that they are learning would be utterly preposterous. Zombies are not like newborns. They are not reborn dead. They are re-animated corpses driven by a biological imperative that compels them to spread the virus that created them in the first place.
    All diseases look for a way to propagate and stimulating the hunger drive makes the most sense if you need to compel the host to bite another potential host. If the zombie gets a better hold of its intended prey then it will eat but it doesn’t really need the nutrients found in human flesh since it is already dead
    They might need to learn not to eat other creatures, as they won’t survive the re-animation process, and focus solely on human targets but they won’t stumble hap hazardly about learning what to eat.
    It sounds like Mr. Baldwin needs to stop thinking in the animal behavior area and study virology and the nature of infection

  8. Just sounds like modern combat to me. As soon as we come to the realization that they are, in fact, zombies, and represent a threat, we engage and neutralize them. So what if they regain some skills and can learn, unless they’re all reading the Ranger Handbook and learning how to put on makeup and walk normally, I don’t see it as much of an issue for those with a combat arms military background, or anyone who’s ever done much hunting and wilderness survival.

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