1 Tahrcountry Musings: Snap-buckling observed in vertebrates for the first time

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Snap-buckling observed in vertebrates for the first time

Snap-buckling is usually seen in plants and insects. It is akin to the opening and closing of a snap hair clip
 The best example of snap-buckling in plants is the Venus flytrap, which uses it to catch insects.
For the first time Snap-buckling has been observed in vertebrates and it happens to be in hummingbird.
Hummingbird beaks are built to feed on flowers, but hummingbirds can't live on nectar alone. To get enough protein and nutrients they need to eat small insects also. The shape of a hummingbird's beak allows for “controlled elastic" and this allows it to snatch up flying insects in a mere fraction of seconds.
The researchers found that the hummingbird's bendy lower beak flexes by as much as 25 degrees when it opens. At the same time it also widens at the base to create a larger surface for catching insects. The extra speed leads to greater success in catching insects.

Details of the study will appear in the August 7 issue of Journal of Theoretical Biology

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