Scientists crack mystery behind shape of bird eggs

Fascinating article from phys.org .  Follow the link here to the website and article.

August 23, 2018 , University of Sheffield

Scientists crack mystery behind shape of bird eggs
Credit: University of Sheffield

A centuries-old mystery behind the shape of a bird’s egg has been solved by scientists at the University of Sheffield as part of one of the longest-running scientific studies of its kind.

The study, led by Professor Tim Birkhead from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, has discovered the reason why guillemot eggs have such a peculiar shape – a mystery that has been puzzling biologists for hundreds of years.

Guillemots lay and incubate their single egg on bare cliff ledges close to the sea, which led scientists and nature enthusiasts to believe that the egg’s pointed shape had evolved to help it roll in an arc – thus keeping it from the cliff edge should it become dislodged

However, Professor Birkhead, who has been studying the behaviour of guillemots, puffins and razorbills on Skomer Island in Wales for almost 50 years, has discovered that the egg’s shape has evolved in order to keep the egg in place and prevent it from rolling away in the first place.

 

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