Homing instinct

 
Published: Thursday 15 January 1998

How do squirrels know where they buried their nuts, and bees successfully return to their hives? Alan Kamil and Juli Jones at the University of Nebraska, USA, say that some animals possess internal representations of the geometric relationships between geographical features -- a cognitive 'map'. The finding is true in case of the Clark's nutcracker (Nucifraga Columbiana), a bird in the crow family. These birds have some way of remembering the locations of their seed caches. The clever and resourceful birds can learn to find the point halfway between two landmarks that vary in the distance that separates them.

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