Watch the Birdie

  • Share
  • Read Later
Next time, think twice before calling someone a "birdbrain." A new study published in the journal Nature Thursday suggests our feathered friends are a lot smarter than we thought -- at least when it comes to remembering where they put that nice, juicy bug. Behavioral scientists studying scrub jays said that the birds displayed what is known as episodic, or event-based, memory. The jays were able to remember which side of a tray their larva was buried on, and how long ago they put it there; if the larva was past its sell-by date, the birds didn't even dig for it.

In other words, the researchers said, bird memory functions pretty much like ours. Humans remember crucial events by placing themselves back in time mentally; so, it seems, do birds. That poses interesting questions about evolution, since we parted company with the ancestors of our avian companions more than 250 million years ago. Did such advanced information storage arrive before the dinosaurs did? If only we could remember...