Humans science constantly. Everyday transactions and interactions- from pumping gas to boiling water to having a simple conversation- involve science on some level. We embrace science as an active presence in our lives from the minute we wake up in the morning to the second we fall asleep at night. This week, however, we are going to take a step into the animal kingdom to take a closer look at how a feathered member of the animal kingdom uses science every day!
They eat bones. They bathe in mud. They dye their feathers bright red and orange. They are Bearded Vultures. And they science. The Bearded Vulture, also known as the Ossifrage (which means “bone breaker”) is no bird brain when it comes to getting a tasty meal!
While most vulture species typically scavenge for dead animals to feed on (also known as carrion), bearded vultures feast almost exclusively on bones. Bones are often overlooked by other birds and animals, so they are a bountiful, highly nutritious source of food. Bearded Vultures, which are native to parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia, are the only bird species to specialize in eating them! More specifically, the whole bones of animals like sheep and goats.
How does a vulture go about eating the bones of a sheep or goat? They smash the bones into bits, of course! Bearded vultures have developed the ability to ride thermal columns of air high into the sky over the rocky cliffs they call home while carrying large pieces of bone. When they are high enough, the vultures release the bone and let it plummet back towards earth. Upon impact, the bone shatters into smaller, easier-to-eat pieces. Yummy!
Check out the incredible video below to see a bearded vulture in action:
How cool is that!? Did you see all of the science happening? Let’s break it down:
For more information (including more pictures and videos) on the incredible Bearded Vulture, visit www.arkive.org!
How We Science is moderated and edited by the staff of the Natural Resources Trust of Easton.