Friday, July 3, 2020

TIL: When a Pelican Overheats it Pulls its Spine Out of its Mouth

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What a terrible day to have eyes. Today I learned that a pelican (and other birds) can pull their spines out of their mouths. They do this when they start to overheat as a way to cool themselves down but boy is it not what I expected to see this morning.

So now that I know this I’ve started to research how the heck they do this. In order to cool themselves down they will sit with their mouths open so that their insides will cool down as well as their outsides. They call this gular flutter and in extreme cases of overheating they will pull up their spine. This is the same mechanic they use to yawn which is also really crazy to watch.

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This is just one of the ways that they have adapted. Pelicans are over 30 million years old according to the oldest finding. The earliest pelican fossil on record is a 30-million-year-old skull that was found in the Oligocene deposits of France. And there are now eight living species which you can find everywhere but Antarctica because while they like to keep cool, that’s a bit too cold.

Another scary fact about our friends the pelican, they don’t eat just fish. They also eat amphibians, crustaceans, turtles, and… other birds. As long as it can fit down their throat they will eat it. Which means they are kind of cannibalistic.

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What do you think about all this? Do you have any favorite weird animals? Tell us in the comments and start the conversation!

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