Article by Justine E.
First Posted: Sep 14, 2016 04:20 AM EDT
Photo Credit: Ground squirrels are the newest addition to the list of smart animals that navigate by the sun. Mark Gunn / Flickr CC BY 2.0
These days, numerous animals have already been known for various exceptional abilities and intelligence. And just recently, experts have found that ground squirrels are ready to be added to the list of smart animals. When it comes to storing their food, a new study revealed that they depend on the sun's position, which serves as their navigational guide.
According to Nature World News, researchers found that when looking for a potential storage place for their food, ground squirrels tend to move towards or away from the sun. They likewise do it in a direction that deviates slightly from the sun's direction. Researchers observed a movement pattern from which they assume that squirrels use the sun's position at a specific time of the day to search for the place where they can store their food.
Nine Cape ground squirrels in South Africa were the subjects of the study. They belong to the five social groups that live in the Kuruman River Reserve. A GPS tracker was attached to each squirrel and cameras were set up near the social circles.
Each squirrel was given a peanut and after receiving the food, they seemed to follow a nearly straight line and went towards or away from the sun's position to go their storage places. What is more interesting was the fact that the squirrels recovered their food almost 24 hours after storing it. Apparently, that was during the time when the sun sits at the same position as the previous day. Moreover, they seem to be flexible when it comes to recovering their food. They also tend to do it during the times when there are more individuals. This is to prevent their food from being stolen.
According to IFL Science, squirrels share the same ability with birds, bees, sea turtles, and ancient tailors. They are the newest addition to the list of creatures that navigate by the sun. Indeed, animals have certain skills that define them, just like humans.