Brush Turkey

Birds Downsized Downunder

Birds downsized downunder, as described in ABC News, BBC News 14 June 2017 and Royal Society Open Science doi: 10.1098/rsos.170233, published online 14 June 2017. Three scientists at Flinders University in South Australia have carried out a review of fossils of a group of extinct birds, named megapodes, which means “big feet,” found throughout Australia. […]

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Galapagos Cormorant

How Flightless Cormorants Evolved

How flightless cormorants evolved, according to reports in Science News and UCLA News 1 June 2017, and Science doi:10.1126/science.aal3345, 2 June 2017. The Galapagos cormorant, Phalacrocorax harrisi, has short stubby wings and a small sternum (breast bone), and is the world’s only flightless cormorant. Flightless birds have intrigued evolutionary biologists from Darwin onwards. An international […]

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How Do Flamingos Stand on One Leg?

How do flamingos stand on one leg? Now we know, according to reports in Science (AAAS) News 23 May 2017, BBC News 24 May 2017, National Geographic 27 May 2017 and Biology Letters, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0948, 24 May 2017. Flamingos are large birds with narrow spindly legs, but they often stand quietly for long periods and […]

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Chameleon in Forest

Diets Shaped Chameleon Heads

Diets shaped chameleon heads, according to Science (AAAS) News 31 March 2017 and Functional Ecology vol. 31, pp 671–684, March 2017, doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12750. A group of scientists studying a genus of South African dwarf chameleons named Bradypodion were intrigued by the variety of head shapes within the same genus – some tall, some wide and […]

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How Hummingbirds Avoid Crashes

How hummingbirds avoid crashes according to ScienceDaily and New Scientist 18 July 2016 and PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1603221113, published online 18 July 2016. Hummingbirds are incredibly agile and fast flyers. In their natural environment they are able to fly through dense forests at speeds up to 50km per hour without colliding with any obstacles, and accurately […]

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Dino Feathers in Amber

Dino feathers in amber claim scientists, according to articles in BBC News, National Geographic and ScienceDaily 8 December 2016, and Current Biology, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.008. A group of scientists from China, Canada and UK have studied a piece of amber containing a small row of vertebral bones covered in fine feather-like filaments, which they claim […]

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Bird Wing

Dinosaur Age Bird Keratin

‘Dinosaur age’ bird keratin found according to reports in ScienceDaily 21 November 2016, ABC News 24 November 2016 and PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1617168113, published online 21 November 2016. In recent years scientists studying the microscopic structure of fossil birds and dinosaurs, have found small structures that look like melanosomes, granules containing the pigment melanin. There has […]

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Gannet Flying

Why Diving Birds Don’t Break Their Necks

Why diving birds don’t break their necks revealed in reports in ScienceDaily 5 October 2016 and PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1608628113, published online 4 October 2016. A group of scientists at Virginia Tech have carried out a study of the biomechanics involved to find out why diving birds don’t break their slender, apparently fragile necks. Some diving […]

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Oldest Bird Vocal Organ

Oldest bird vocal organ found, according to reports in BBC News, ABC News, and ScienceDaily and Nature, 2016 DOI: 10.1038/nature19852, published online 12 October 2016. Birds make sounds using an organ named a syrinx, which is located at the junction of the trachea and the two main bronchi down in the bird’s chest. This structure […]

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Finch Evolution in the Act

“Evolution caught in the act” is the headline of an article in news@nature, 13 July 2006. A study of two species of Darwin’s finches on one of the smaller Galapagos Islands has “provided the best description of a characteristic trait evolving in the wild.” The study was reported in Science vol. 313, p224, 14 July […]

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