Flamingo skull shows adaptations to life feeding upside down


The skull of the flamingo shows several fascinating adaptations for its use in feeding. Flamingos, of course, feed with their heads upside down in water, filtering it for small prey items. Accordingly they have some interesting structural features which differ from other birds – the lower bill is larger and stronger than the upper bill, and the upper bill is mobile rather than being rigidly fused to the rest of the skull so it can move during feeding. Movement of the head through the water, and movement of the very large tongue, draws the water through a series of filter plates within the beak to catch food.

Image courtesy of the RVC.


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