The observable examined

Common hands and singing wings

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The club-winged Manakin. What a wonderful bird! I read about this bird in the May issue of the National Geographic.  This is one of the very few birds, in existence, that uses it body parts to “sing” during courtship rituals. As if this extraordinary feat was not adequate to woo his mate, the male Manakin also does a moonwalk, a la Michael Jackson, high up in the canopy of the tropical forests of Ecuador. You can watch this behavior in the video below.

The story gets even more fascinating. Dr. Kimberly Bostwick, has put together a beautiful set of videos on her research of manakins and her systematic unravelling of the mystery of how the club-winged manakin makes its wings sing. Kudos to Dr.Bostwick for her single minded dedication and painstaking research in understanding this remarkable product of evolution. I will not spoil it for you but point your browser to

Singing Wings Org   and enjoy the videos (click on the big white area). I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Talking of evolution, there was a second remarkable article on the commonality of hand structures across species. Carl Zimmer writes “The hand is where the mind meets the world. We humans use our hands to build fires and sew quilts, to steer airplanes, to write, dig, remove tumors, pull a rabbit out of a hat. The human brain, with its open-ended creativity, may be the thing that makes our species unique. But without hands, all the grand ideas we concoct would come to nothing but a very long to-do list…”

This article is beautifully illustrated (humans, cats, frogs, elephants!,dolphins), but unfortunately it is not available in its entirety for public consumption (NG has to make money right!). These illustrations and animations really come live on the iPad. They are exquisite.

If there are any evolution doubters out there, witness the beauty of the scientific enterprise piecing together the evolutionary jigsaw puzzle , in the articles noted above. Richard Leakey, believes that skepticism regarding evolution will soon be history (the link will take you to a Huffington Post article).

PS: I have no affiliation with NG but am a huge fan of the magazine. National Geographic Magazine, in print, is already a wonderful magazine replete with visual treats. Growing up, I have borrowed it   from well-to-do neighbors and derived immense pleasure from viewing the exquisite photographs as well as reading the informative articles on different dimensions of the world we live in.  Many decades later, they have been producing the same high quality magazines, in print. I read a recent version on the iPad and the videos and image quality are breathtaking, titillating your visual senses maximally.


Written by asterix98

May 29, 2012 at 2:34 am

Posted in science

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

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