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The lab rat with feathers

AN AUSTRALIAN BIRD is fast on its way to becoming the best-known bird in the world. The zebra finch has been the subject of more than 1500 research papers so far, establishing it as the world’s most studied bird after the great tit of Europe and Asia. Tits are studied mainly in the wild and ‘zebbies’ in captivity, establishing our finches as the lab rats of the bird world.

They have been enlisted in studies of almost anything – song learning, personality stability, social isolation, gene expression, Diazepam sedation, and detection of the earth’s magnetic field – in journals that span the spectrum from Ethology to the International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos.

Read more at the Australian Geographic blog.

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