Flamingo feeding described in ScienceNOW 31 Oct 2006. Larry Witmar of Ohio University has studied the blood vessels of flamingos and compared them with other birds. He found that flamingos have two expandable blood filled sinuses under each side of the tongue. When these are filled with blood they enlarge and stiffen the tongue. This would enable the bird to feed more efficiently. Flamingos are filter feeders, i.e. they suck water into their mouths and strain out plankton. Unlike other filter feeders, flamingos hold their heads upside down as they feed and use their tongue like a piston to pump the water through their mouths. Flamingo jaw bones have a distinctive depression where it underlies the sinuses. No other birds have this depression, so scientists suspect that the sinuses are unique to flamingos. Ornithologist Richard Prum of Yale University commented: “This is pioneering work. Flamingos evolved a whole new way to feed, with a new orientation of the head, and nobody has come up with a role for the vascular (blood vessel) system in foraging before.” Evolutionary biologist Marcel van Tuinen of University of North Carolina says the jawbone depression could be used to trace the origin of filter feeding as the flamingo’s method of feeding resembles that of baleen whales.

Editorial Comment: No-one has observed flamingos evolving from another bird, let alone from a baleen whale. Finding filter feeding structures in both flamingos and baleen whales is a good example of how each kind of living creature is a unique combination of non-unique parts – exactly what you would expect from the description of creation in Genesis, which tells us that birds and whales were made as fully functioning creatures, according to their kinds. (Ref. design, Aves, ornithology)

Evidence News, 22nd November 2006