Friday mystery object #185 answer


On Friday I gave you this object to identify:

mystery185

I thought it might have posed a bit of a challenge, since it’s part of a species of bird that you don’t find in Europe or North America. Of course, I was forgetting the skills of the Zygoma community. Everyone recognised it as the sternum of a bird with weak flight muscles and Wouter van Gestel spotted the species and was supported in his identification by Barbara Powell and Robin.

This is the sternum of a Hoatzin Opisthocomus hoazin Illiger, 1811. You can see a nice 3D model of a similar sternum here at Aves 3D.

Opisthocomus hoazin; Beni River, Bolivia by Linda De Volder

These bizarre South American birds are poor fliers and generally get around by clambering (rather clumsily) through the trees. This suits them fine as they feed on leaves, which they ferment in their large crop. The smell of the the bacterially fermented vegetation lends them their alternative name of ‘Stinkbird’ – lovely.

Here’s a clip of these odd birds in action:

They may stink and they suck at flying, but they are rather fascinating.

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