Cool beaks for puffins described in articles in Inside JEB 8 November 2019, PhysOrg 27 November 2019 and Journal of Experimental Biology 8 November 2019 doi: 10.1242/jeb.212563. 

Birds generate a lot of heat during flying and have to be able to dissipate some of this or they will overheat their bodies.  As they are covered with a layer of insulating feathers they do not lose much heat directly from their bodies. 

Previous studies have shown that birds with large, thick beaks, such as toucans and hornbills, can use these for giving off heat and keeping their temperature under control.  Scientists at McGill University, Canada, and University of California Davis, have now studied the puffin, another bird with a beak that appears oversized for its body, and found it also uses its beak for thermoregulation.  The researchers took thermal images of the birds after they returned from flying and found the beak emitted almost 20% of the total heat lost from their bodies even though the beak makes up only 6% of the bird’s surface area. 

Kyle Elliott, of McGill University commented: “The avian bill is a classic example of how evolution shapes morphology.”  He went on to explain, “Our results support the idea that body heat regulation has played a role in shaping some bird beaks. We think this also an example of exaptation, which means that an external structure is amplified to serve a new function; much in the same way the desert hare’s ears became bigger to help them cool down.”

Inside JEB, PhysOrg

Editorial Comment: Using a word like “exaptation” is a classic example of evolutionists hiding behind an apparently technical term, instead of actually demonstrating how the structure or function came about as real scientist would. 

Being overheated neither gives bigger beaks to birds nor humans for that matter.  If any half-evolved puffins suffered from poor thermo-regulation because their beaks weren’t big enough, they will just get sick and die after an intense heat-producing flight.  Puffins survive their high energy flights because they already have all the right features for thermoregulation.  Birds won’t develop a larger beak simply from getting overheated. 

What they need is new information in the genes, and not just for beak growth.  It is not enough just to have a bigger beak.  Thermoregulation is a complex process involving monitoring the body temperature and modifying the blood circulation to different parts of the body, as well as the modifying breathing and physical activity. 

Using one structure to carry out more than one function is an actually an example of forward planning and clever design. 

Many people take delight in puffins because of their quirky appearance, and we believe their Creator did when He made living things that are both functional and pleasing to the eye, and declared everything He made to be very good. 

Evidence News vol. 19,
No. 19
4 December 2019
Creation Research Australia