Humm.. it’s a a giant!

Hummingbirds – elegant and light? Not all of them! Of approximately 340 species of hummingbirds, 70% weigh six grams or less, while 30% weigh between six and ten grams. The giant hummingbird, Patagona gigas, with its 20g, is a heavy weight! Other animal species, rodents for example, contain individuals ranging in body mass from 10 grams to a rather phenomenal 60 kilograms. However, unlike the hummingbird, these mass differences occur gradually, rather than with a large ‘gap’ of mass. Maria Jose Fernandez from University of California, Berkeley, will be presenting her work trying to unravel the secret of P. gigas’ extreme size at the SEB meeting at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona on Tuesday 12th of July.

The giant hummingbird can be found in countries such as Ecuador and Chile, where Fernandez is investigating the upper limit, which could explain the upper body size among hummingbirds. She measured the influence of energy use and nutrient uptake on the birds’ hovering flight style, a mechanism which is in some ways similar to that of helicopters. Hovering is highly demanding, displaying some of the highest mass specific rates of aerobic metabolism and muscle power output among vertebrates. No difference was seen between the maximum metabolic rate and the daily energy expenditure, which means that the basal metabolic rate is the influential factor for the size of the hummingbird. “It is not unreasonable to suggest that there are energetic constraints on the evolution of body size”, says Fernandez.

Media Contact

Diana van Gent alfa

All latest news from the category: Life Sciences and Chemistry

Articles and reports from the Life Sciences and chemistry area deal with applied and basic research into modern biology, chemistry and human medicine.

Valuable information can be found on a range of life sciences fields including bacteriology, biochemistry, bionics, bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, genetics, geobotany, human biology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, zoology, bioinorganic chemistry, microchemistry and environmental chemistry.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Enhancing the workhorse

Artificial intelligence, hardware innovations boost confocal microscope’s performance. Since artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky patented the principle of confocal microscopy in 1957, it has become the workhorse standard in life…

In the quantum realm, not even time flows as you might expect

New study shows the boundary between time moving forward and backward may blur in quantum mechanics. A team of physicists at the Universities of Bristol, Vienna, the Balearic Islands and…

Hubble Spots a Swift Stellar Jet in Running Man Nebula

A jet from a newly formed star flares into the shining depths of reflection nebula NGC 1977 in this Hubble image. The jet (the orange object at the bottom center…

Partners & Sponsors