“And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up….”
Episodic memory, the ability to remember something that happened in the past is called mental time travel. It has long been thought that only humans are capable of episodic memory. New research suggests that some birds are also capable of mental time travel.
Researchers gave captive Western scrub jays wax worms, one of their favorite foods. As they usually do, the jays made their selections and hid the worms in the trays of sand provided. Five days later, the birds were allowed to recover their treats. The jays discovered that after the five days, the worms had begun to decay. The researchers fooled a second batch of jays by replacing their decayed worms with fresh worms just before the birds were allowed to find their treats. Then both batches of birds were again allowed to take and hide a choice of worms. Those birds that had had experience with the decayed worms, would no longer take new worms to hide. But the birds that had been fooled took the worms and buried them, still expecting them to be good later. In other words, the birds remembered what happened in the past and adjusted their behavior. Other tests offered similar results.
God has given all His creatures the abilities they need to make a living without regard to where those creatures are on the manmade evolutionary ladder.
Father, I thank You that You have given me and all creatures what we need for life here. Amen.
Science News, 2/14: 2004, pp. 103-105, Susan Milius, “Where’d I Put That?” Photo: Western scrub jay. Courtesy of Minette Layne. (CC BY-SA 2.0)