Evolution

February 9, 2009 by  
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Scientists theorize that birds evolved from dinosaurs. This theory for the evolution of birds was brought about by the discovery of a fossil species possessing feathers. This fossil species called Archaeopteryx lithographica dates back to 150 million years ago and is thought to have evolved from dinosaurs called theropods. Archaeopteryx lithographica had two strong legs and walked as a bird does. Its skeleton was reptilian whilst it had the feathers of a bird. Recently, two other feathered dinosaur species were discovered in China. Scientists believe that this adds further proof to the theory of the evolution of birds from dinosaurs.

Other Scientist argue that birds evolved a long period of time before Archaeopteryx. They theorize that the evolution of birds occurred from 4 legged reptiles that died out with the dinosaurs. Such scientists believe that the actual ancestors of our birds today only appeared some 65 to 53 million years ago. This view is not popular amongst scientists though.

There are two theories as to why feathers would have developed in the evolution of birds. One is that because the ancestors of birds where becoming warm-blooded, they required the insulation of feathers. Another is that they develop due to a need for flight and gliding. Whilst many creatures have been and are able to fly, feather-powered flight is unique. This ability to fly gave birds the competitive edge as they could travel over greater distances and areas whilst seeking food. This also allowed them to live in places inaccessible to other animals.

Bird species have adapted to fit into various niches (a place and purpose in relation to the entire ecological community). They have developed instincts to feed, breed and migrate in a way that is species specific.

Birds today continue to adapt to the changing conditions of the world. Unfortunately, these changing conditions have seen many species become extinct. However, increasing awareness of the need to protect the environment and the animals who live in it may ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy these fascinating creatures.

The Important Role of Birds in Pollination

October 31, 2007 by  
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Pollination, whereby pollen grains (male) are transferred to the ovule (female) of a plant, is an irreplaceable step in the reproduction of seed plants. Most plant fruits are unable to develop without pollination taking place and many beautiful flower varieties would die out if not pollinated. Bees and insects are the most common pollinators, but bats and birds are known to do their share in this vital activity. The agent moving the pollen, whether it is moths, bees, bats, wind or birds, is called the “pollinator” and the plant providing the pollen is called the “pollenizer”.

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The Silent Flight of Owls at Night

September 7, 2007 by  
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The Owl is a fascinating nocturnal bird and one of the quietest flying bird species in the world. The Owl’s ability to keep completely silent while in action is based on the Owl’s unique feather design, which is unlike any other bird species.

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The Marvelous Mechanics of Flight

April 16, 2007 by  
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Although airplane wings may be somewhat modeled after the wings of birds, the mechanics of bird flight are far more complex. A number of forces act on the flexible wings of a bird and are very different from those on the fixed wings of an airplane. Birds are highly specialized creatures and adapted for flight. They dominate the skies and occupy a unique niche in the environment.

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How Penguins Stay Warm (and cool!)

March 5, 2007 by  
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Penguins live in icy waters. The Emperor Penguin, in particular faces cold weather, living in Antarctica. It faces quite a challenge: how to keep its body temperature at 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit, when the winter air it lives in may be a full 200 degrees colder!

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