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Science in Brief

Instinctual Behavior Transferred From Quail to Chicken, Scientist Says

March 06, 1997|From Times staff and wire reports

By transplanting brain parts from a quail into a 2-day-old chicken embryo, a La Jolla scientist has produced a baby chicken that sings like a quail. The study shows that baby chicks do not learn how to sing from their parents, but get a specific signal from the brain, biologist Evan Balaban of the Neurosciences Institute reported in the March 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study is believed to be the first in which an instinctual behavior has been transferred from one species to another. A chicken's song is a short squeak accompanied by a forward and back head motion, while a quail sings three distinct sounds and shakes its head up and down rapidly, according to Balaban.

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