11 of the Hottest Bird Dance Moves


If you think you have some sweet dance moves, just wait until you see these birds. Warning to female birds: This list contains erotic content and is NSFB(ird)W.     


The courtship display of the greater sage-grouse has to be seen to be believed. Male birds fluff up their ruffs and fan their spiky tail feathers. They waggle their heads seductively and inflate the suggestive yellow air sacs on their chest, which produce bizarre dropping-and-popping sounds. 


Flamingos are incredibly social birds. They do everything together—even find mates. The flock forms a single mass and begins mincing across the salt flats. Each bird is watching the others, looking for a partner. Eventually they’ll all pair off and go do their pink romance thing.


These birds are not subtle in their courtship. Most intense may be the male superb bird-of-paradise, which transforms its body into a goofy iridescent mask and hops aggressively in a potential mate’s face. 


The mating dance of the western grebe has long been a source of fascination for scientists and bird lovers. Courting grebes pull off a technique called rushing, in which they sprint as far as 66 feet across the water’s surface. They manage this by taking up to 20 steps per second. 


It may not be “Thriller,” but it’s still bad (in an MJ kind of way): Male red-capped manakins perform a hilarious moonwalk-type dance to impress potential mates. They also make a range of sounds—buzzes, whirrs, and snaps—that may attract females and warn off rival males.  


It’s hard to miss a Victoria’s riflebird. In addition to their loud calls and their interpretive-dance-type mating display, the wings of male birds make an unmistakable rustling sound in flight.


It’s not easy being blue. Boobies have to devote a lot of resources to keep their feet vibrant, which means that brighter feet are usually a good indication of healthy birds. And wooing boobies aren’t shy about showing off; during courtship, they actually wave their feet at each other to make sure all that work doesn’t go to waste.


The courtship behaviors of bowerbirds are legendary, but most of the attention is focused on their beautiful bowers. Somewhat less appreciated is the Barry White–level of bird sensuality in the dance of the male flame bowerbird, which undulates slowly while maintaining an uncomfortable level of eye contact (well, uncomfortable for me—the female birds must love it, or they wouldn’t keep doing this).


Blue-capped cordon bleus are the all-singing, all-dancing players of the finch world. Male and female birds alike are a triple threat: They bob their heads, sing, and tap dance at top speed, often all at the same time. 


Male Lawes’s parotias (also known as six-wired birds of paradise) spare no expense when it’s time to strut their stuff. Not only do they stage fantastic, funky displays like the one shown above, but they also strategically decorate their performance spaces with trinkets and desirable objects like shed snake skins and pieces of chalk.


No list of dancing birds would be complete without Snowball. The head-banging cockatoo became an instant celebrity in 2007 when his foster keeper caught him dancing to the Backstreet Boys. Was Snowball really dancing, in the truest sense of the word? A neurobiologist subjected the bird to a battery of dance tests. The verdict: Yes, Snowball can dance, although he's pretty bad at it.

Slow Motion Is the Only Way to Appreciate a Chameleon’s Lightning-Fast Tongue

From the unusual way they walk, to their ability to change color, the evolutionary adaptations of chameleons are pretty bizarre, and some of them remain mysterious even to scientists. Their super-powered tongues, for instance, can dart out so quickly that the movement can barely be seen with the naked eye. But modern high-speed cameras have enabled researchers at the University of South Dakota to observe this appendage at work like never before. The video below, shared over at The Kid Should See This, includes some of that groundbreaking footage, and it's pretty amazing to watch.

Shooting at 3000 frames per second, the camera was able to capture every split-second aspect of the chameleon's tongue strike. Slowed down, the video allows you to see how every component of the process works in harmony: First, muscles in the lizard’s tongue contract like the string of a bow. Then, when that tension is released, the bony base of the tongue shoots forward, pushing the sticky, elastic part toward the chameleon’s prey.

According to Christopher Anderson, one of the scientists who conducted the high-speed camera research, larger chameleons can catapult their tongues forward at distances of one to two times their body length. For smaller chameleons, this distance can reach up to two and a half times their body length. “Small chameleons need to be able to eat more food for their body size than large chameleons,” he tells bioGraphic in the video, “and so by being able to project their tongues proportionately further than these large species, they basically are opening up additional feeding opportunities to themselves that they wouldn’t have if they had a shorter tongue.”

To see one of nature’s greatest hunting tools in action, check out the full video below.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

There May Be an Ancient Reason Why Your Dog Eats Poop

Dogs aren't known for their picky taste in food, but some pups go beyond the normal trash hunting and start rooting around in poop, whether it be their own or a friend's. Just why dogs exhibit this behavior is a scientific mystery. Only some dogs do it, and researchers aren't quite sure where the impulse comes from. But if your dog is a poop eater, it's nearly impossible to steer them away from their favorite feces.

A new study in the journal Veterinary Medicine and Science, spotted by The Washington Post, presents a new theory for what scientists call "canine conspecific coprophagy," or dogs eating dog poop.

In online surveys about domestic dogs' poop-eating habits completed by thousands of pet owners, the researchers found no link between eating poop and a dog's sex, house training, compulsive behavior, or the style of mothering they received as puppies. However, they did find one common link between the poop eaters. Most tended to eat only poop that was less than two days old. According to their data, 85 percent of poop-eaters only go for the fresh stuff.

That timeline is important because it tracks with the lifespan of parasites. And this led the researchers to the following hypothesis: that eating poop is a holdover behavior from domestic dogs' ancestors, who may have had a decent reason to tuck into their friends' poop.

Since their poop has a high chance of containing intestinal parasites, wolves poop far from their dens. But if a sick wolf doesn't quite make it out of the den in time, they might do their business too close to home. A healthier wolf might eat this poop, but the parasite eggs wouldn't have hatched within the first day or two of the feces being dropped. Thus, the healthy wolf would carry the risk of infection away from the den, depositing the eggs they had consumed away in their own, subsequent bowel movements at an appropriate distance before the eggs had the chance to hatch into larvae and transmit the parasite to the pack.

Domestic dogs may just be enacting this behavior instinctively—only for them, there isn't as much danger of them picking up a parasite at home. However, the theory isn't foolproof. The surveys also found that so-called "greedy eaters" were more likely to eat feces than dogs who aren't quite so intense about food. So yes, it could still be about a poop-loving palate.

But really, it's much more pleasant to think about the behavior as a parasite-protection measure than our best pals foraging for a delicious fecal snack. 

[h/t The Washington Post]


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