Excerpt from the book Animals Evolution Avoided. This book describes 40 animals that ought to exist but don’t, because I made them up.
In Benin, squirrels are widely admired, indeed the national football team of Benin is called The Squirrels. The reason for this is a particular breed of squirrel called The Elephant Squirrel. This squirrel is so called, not because it is large, but because it has an excellent memory. Even the crows in Benin follow this squirrel around, hoping to take advantage of its almost miraculous ability to remember where food is buried.
The Elephant Squirrel doesn’t partake in the unseemly squabbles other squirrels become involved in over food – it lets the other squirrels fight it out. Elephant squirrels can be seen relaxing on a roof overlooking the area where the food has been found by the other animals. What this animal does do, is watch where other squirrels hide their food. It makes a mental note of these locations and then returns to these places at a later date, when the other squirrel isn’t around, and transfers the food to its own favourite hiding place. Some people would call this squirrel a thief or a criminal mastermind, but the Elephant Squirrel isn’t completely heartless. It will leave exactly 33% of the food for the other squirrel to eat. This means that the other squirrel, who doesn’t have an excellent memory, will think that the food in its hiding place was all it ever had and won’t think its supplies have been taken away.
Elephant Squirrels tend to be rather overweight as they don’t scurry around all the time, but watch what’s going on and what evolves as regards any particular situation. In memory tests, Elephant Squirrels on average remembered the location of 98 caches of nuts out of 100. One such squirrel, called Sylvester, was able to remember the site of 154 separate caches with 100% accuracy.