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8.03.2005

 

Are Latino birds more romantic?


Male club-winged manakin. Photo courtesy Science.

The male club-winged manakin serenades females with violin-like hums that are produced by vibrating its wings in a shivering motion at 106 times a second, which is the fastest known in the animal world.

The strange sound intrigued Charles Darwin, who wrote about the club-winged manakin in 1871 in his treatise the "The Descent of Man." Although his book contains illustrations of the bird's unusual feathers, Darwin did not know how the sound was generated.

With the aid of high-speed cameras, scientists Kimberly Bostwick of Cornell University and colleague Richard Prum of Yale University answer that question in the current issue of Science. Read more at the Discovery Channel Web site. (via Mirabilis.ca)

By the way, the club-winged manakin is only found in a narrow strip of the Ecuador rainforest. Which means you've got about two months to go see it before it's bumped off by environmentally friendly oil drilling.

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