Nature gives animals all kinds of storage compartments

From the seahorse male’s brood pouch to the chipmunk’s cheeks, storage spaces help animals function: birthing, toting baby, carrying tools, gathering food.

English biological anthropologist Alice Roberts had so often ridiculed the human form’s shortcomings that in 2018 a colleague gave her this challenge: Redesign the body by improving upon its parts. Finding inspiration in nonhuman species, Roberts speculated that we might be better off with some of their features, including the marsupial’s pouch. 

No human mother will be pocketing her little Joey like a joey anytime soon, but many animals—and not just marsupials—have vital uses for their built-in storage containers. Here are five. 

He does the hard labor: In seahorse couples, the female deposits her eggs into the male, which holds them in a frontal compartment called a brood pouch. After 14 to 28 days, he delivers up to 1,500 fry in a water birth.

Read This Next

Planet circling a burned-out star offers a glimpse at the solar system's fate
This 50-year project is tracking the Cascades' melting glaciers
The Peruvian Amazon's largest wildlife market is back in business

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet