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 Published by Targa Publishing all rights reserved - 2016 No content of this website or Tabloid may be reproduced in any form without the consent of the owners. CONTACT DETAILS Advertising Sales    Mike 	   	  044 620 4042      									  sales @ greatbrakpost.co.za Editorial Content     Laurinda   	  082 738 8011       									  ed.gbp @ greatbrakpost.co.za Article & Proofing	   Marianne	  	  072 025 0153      									  articles @ greatbrakpost.co.za

WHY ARE BIRDS EGGS            

EGG-SHAPED

by Sally Adam Researchers have finally worked out why bird eggs are egg shaped. Traditional explanations include the suggestion that eggs are pointed to stop them rolling out of nests, or to allow them to fit more neatly into nests. However, in a paper published in the June edition of Science, Princeton's Mary Stoddard and her collaborators report that flight may influence egg shape - good fliers tend to lay asymmetric (showing a difference between the pointy end and the blunt end) or elliptical (long and oval) eggs. Her team wrote a computer program with the amusing name of "Eggxtractor", which can use images of eggs to measure their length, width and shape. These measurements were used to determine how pointy or elongated each egg was. Almost 50 000 eggs were assessed. The researchers were then able to correlate the egg shapes with other characteristics of each bird species (nesting behaviours, clutch sizes, diet and flight ability). The measure that best matched the differences in pointiness and ovalness was the shape of the wing. Birds with better wings for flying seem to produce longer or pointier eggs, presumably to enable them to keep their slim aerodynamic bodies. But why have different bird groups used different solutions to the egg problem? Stoddard's team will be looking back to the bird's ancestors for answers.

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