New papers making a splash!

Thermal image of a hot hornbill shows the beak radiating heat -- Photo credit tanja van de ven

Thermal image of a hot hornbill shows the beak radiating heat -- Photo credit tanja van de ven

Hot Birds team members have published two papers this month that are making a splash.

First, Prof Andrew McKechnie & the physiology team published a paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology on thermal tolerances of Burchell's Sandgrouse. Sandgrouse are often touted as "quintessential examples of avian adaptation to desert environments" but Andrew shows that their ability to keep cool in the heat is no match for that of desert doves and caprimulgids ...a shocking and unexpected finding! 

Second, PhD student Tanja van de Ven released the first publication from her thesis in PLoS ONE yesterday, about the ability of hornbills to use their beaks as controllable thermal radiators. Tanja used a nifty thermal imaging technique to show that hornbills are able to control the flow of blood to their oversize beaks to maximise cooling capacity when the going gets hot. Tanja's study has already attracted lots of media attention, check out these blog posts:

http://blogs.plos.org/ecology/2016/05/18/hornbills/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160518152800.htm

http://www.examiner.com/article/kalahari-desert-hornbills-keep-their-cool-with-temperature-control-beaks

http://phys.org/news/2016-05-hornbills-kalahari-cool-beaks.html

https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-ticker/hornbills-join-toucans-cool-beak-club

And a youtube video too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSUv-Jmswkg&feature=youtu.be

Congratulations to all the co-authors and thanks to everyone who helped make these studies a reality. PDFs of the papers are available through our 'Publications' page.