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The tooth-billed hummingbird’s combat moves

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When it comes to nectar, the hummingbird is notorious for its highly competitive nature. “Their high-energy lifestyle compels hummingbirds to locate reliable food resources” and then to defend them once found. In the forests of western Colombia, this need to compete has reshaped tooth-billed hummingbird beaks into “strong, sharp and dangerous weapons”.

The males use their bills to stab other males, and to fence — feinting and parrying, sometimes knocking the other bird off a perch. Some hummingbirds even have hooked beaks, with serrations that look like shark’s teeth. Dr. Rico-Guevara’s high-speed video shows males tearing out another bird’s feathers with those grippers.

James Gorman shares the research and an up-close look at this ‘tooth’-filled beak in The Hummingbird as Warrior: Evolution of a Fierce and Furious Beak, a Science Take article and video from The New York Times.

tooth-filled hummingbird beak
Watch these next: Hummingbird Battleground in the Talamanca Mountains and UCLA’s Hummingbird Whisperer.

Plus, watch more videos about evolution: Why Dogs Have Floppy Ears, an animated tale, evidence of evolution that you can find on your body, and Evolution 101 & how natural selection works.

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