Human fetuses are clever students, able to distinguish male from female voices and the voices of their mothers from those of strangers between 32 and 39 weeks after conception. Now, researchers have demonstrated that the embryos of the superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus, pictured), an Australian songbird, also learn to discriminate among the calls they hear. The scientists played 1-minute recordings to 43 fairy-wren eggs collected from nests in the wild. The eggs were between days 9 and 13 of a 13- to 14-day incubation period. The sounds included white noise, a contact call of a winter wren, or a female fairy-wren’s incubation call. Those embryos that listened to the fairy-wrens’ incubation calls and the contact calls of the winter wrens lowered their heart rates, a sign that they were learning to discriminate between the calls of a different species and those of their own kind, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (None showed this response to the white noise.) Thus, even before hatching, these small birds’ brains are engaged in tasks requiring attention, learning, and possibly memory—the first time embryonic learning has been seen outside humans, the scientists say. The behavior is key because fairy-wren embryos must learn a password from their mothers’ incubation calls; otherwise, they’re less successful at soliciting food from their parents after hatching.
According to a Sunday morning tweet from FOX’s NFL insider Jay Glazer, Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer may be close to returning from his shoulder injury.Carson Palmer flew to Denver on Fri,worked w nerve specialist last 2 days & FINALLY think got nerve to … http://t.co/MP9Bq7WdAJ— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) October 5, 2014 Top Stories The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Palmer has been sidelined with a nerve problem in his shoulder for multiple weeks, only playing in the season opener against the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. 0 Comments Share According to Glazer, Palmer believes he was finally able to get the nerve in his shoulder to “release.” If there are no setbacks, Palmer hopes to play as early as next week at home against the Washington Redskins or the following week at his former team the Oakland Raiders. Glazer later reported that Palmer met with the Cardinals in Denver on Saturday after working with a specialist who also helped Peyton Manning recover from nerve issues associated with the QB’s third neck surgery. In Denver, Arizona Sports’ Paul Calvisi tweeted a photo of Palmer throwing during warm-ups.Yes — that’s Carson Palmer throwing from about 10 yards away here pre-game #AZvsDEN pic.twitter.com/DSVHDF1LuF— Paul Calvisi (@PaulCalvisi) October 5, 2014 Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The Cardinals are a perfect 3-0, 2-0 without their starting QB. Drew Stanton has completed 51.6 percent of his throws for 411 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in two games as the starter. Arizona’s starting QB getting healthy is imperative as they play in the very tough NFC West with five division games remaining.