New Science Photo of the Day: 10

Chickadees have a very unusual adaptation for remembering all of the spots where they hide food for the winter. What is it?

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Scientists recently found an amazing adaptation in Chickadees. In the autumn, they hide thousands of seeds in different locations, and they are remarkably good at finding those seeds months later when food is scarce. They can do this because in addition to having good memories, their brain changes. In the autumn, their hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for remembering food locations, adds new brain cells and grows about 30% larger. This gives the bird more neurons, much like adding an external hard drive to your computer for more storage. In the spring, when those memories are no longer needed, the hippocampus shrinks back to its normal size. The following autumn, the hippocampus grows again, providing storage for the memories of new food locations.