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The "prenatal education" of birds

   Biologist Merlin Mariette of Deakin University, Australia, found that zebra finch parents will carry out "prenatal education" - when the ambient temperature is higher than 26 ℃, they will emit a different kind of abnormality to the eggs when they incubate the eggs. A distinctly different cry.

  What are the zebra finch parents saying to the eggs? To find out, Mariette recorded the zebra finch's "prenatal call" and then divided the eggs that were about to hatch (5 days from hatching) into two groups for artificial incubation. During the incubation process, the researchers played the "prenatal chirping" to the first group of eggs, and the second group played the communication sounds between the adult birds. After hatching, they were returned to the nest to be raised by the parent birds.

  The results showed that the "prenatal chirping" had a significant impact on the chicks: the chicks who received the "prenatal education" were born smaller and grew slower than other chicks, but gave birth to more as adults. offspring. That is to say, if the zebra finch chicks are about to be born in hot weather, their parents will conduct "prenatal education" to remind the unborn chicks that it is hot outside and grow slowly. This is because in a high temperature environment, if the chick grows slowly and has a smaller body size, it can reduce oxidative damage and additional energy consumption during development, which is beneficial to the health of the chick.

  But how do zebra finch chicks understand their parents' "prenatal education" and change their size accordingly? Mariette proposed a conjecture that in the brain, auditory circuits are directly linked to areas that control emotion, reflex learning, and hormone production, so that sounds can directly affect biological behavior and physiology, such as hearing sad or happy music, people's Emotions can also be affected. Sounds experienced early in life can trigger the same spontaneous responses, with lasting effects, as this is a period of brain development and consolidation of connections, whose effects on physiology and morphology can last a lifetime. Therefore, when zebra finch chicks hear the "prenatal call" that means hot weather, they produce hormones that change their body shape.



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