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Ground squirrels use 'armpit effect'

Ground squirrels use their own odors to reconstruct family relationships after hibernation.

10:03pm, August 20, 2008

SNOWBIRD, UTAH — Wake up and smell the armpit.

That’s basically what Belding’s ground squirrels do in spring when hibernation has wiped out their memory of their society’s smells, says Jill Mateo of the University of Chicago. Using their own body odors as reference points, the ground squirrels figure out anew each year who’s kin and who’s not.

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