I used to live in SoHo, in a pre-war (Civil War!) basement apt. One day I was patching a hole in the wall when I found this penny from 1832. I felt like I'd taken a trip in a time machine, back to when Andrew Jackson was re-elected president, when the Greek War of Independence ended. It was a real special kind of feeling.
What's the oldest thing you've ever found? How'd you find it?
If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.
While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.
Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.
Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).