Did you know hummingbirds had teeth?
As determined by a UNal research project, besides discovering that inside their beaks they have serrated teeth which allow them to squeeze the fruit nectar from their tongues.Bogotá D. C., 10 de julio de 2015 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
Multiple research projects have been performed with hummingbird beaks. However nobody had ever really researched the structure inside their beaks.
Gary Stiles, UNal Natural Sciences Institute (ICN, for its Spanish acronym) professor and curator of the Ornithology Collection in his inquisitiveness to become cognizant of something new about his passion for birds, went beyond how the mouths of these attractive birds work.
He discovered a small type of serrated teeth or thorns, different from those some have on the edge of their beaks, located precisely in the place they stick their tongues out to collect flower nectar. This system enables them to squeeze the fruit nectar from their tongues.
Along with Alejandro Rico, a former student and now colleague, Professor Stiles analyzed 200 hummingbird species of 10 different genera from diverse natural museums.
According to Stiles, these birds can be classified into two categories. Type A discovered 200 years ago, in which male hummingbirds developed serrated edges on their beaks, such as weapons of war to compete for territory or mates; while type B hummingbirds have these serrated structures precisely inside their beaks where the tongue comes out.
For the latter, the UNal experts discovered a series of thorns with pits on the base where they collect the nectar that then passes to the throat. They also discovered a type of crests at the end of the beak which helps them guide the tongue.
The space for the tongue inside the beak is very precise with the purpose of creating an airtight environment which enables them to produce suction processes to take in food when the tongue flows out of the beak.
“The nectar which these birds feed on has very few nutrients and especially few proteins, therefore they also feed on small arthropods, particularly flies and spiders,” said Stiles.
This also depends on the type of beaks, as those that have curved beaks have a hard time hunting flies, therefore they prefer spiders. As opposed to those with straight beaks which prey on both types of insects.(Por: Fin/VMH/DMH/AC