Usually, if you want to survive the freezing cold, you wrap yourself up in as many layers as possible. However, if you’re the black metaltail hummingbird, it seems the solution is the opposite. Rather than warming themselves up, this bird lowers its body temperature dramatically to survive the cold.
Adapted To The Climate
If you ever visit the Andes mountains in Peru, there’s a good chance you’ll cross paths with plenty of hummingbirds. Many of these species live in this area, and they’ve managed to survive despite the chilly climate. At night, temperatures regularly drop below freezing, something that could have a fatal impact on such small birds. Luckily, their bodies have adapted to the cold in quite a genius way.
As Cold As Ice
As soon as temperatures plummet, the black metaltail goes into torpor. This essentially means their bodies largely shut down until it’s safe for them to reanimate again. It’s an incredibly effective technique that also lowers the animal’s body temperature, allowing them to survive the chilly conditions overnight. Out of all the species that do this, the black metaltail is reportedly the one that’s recorded the coldest body temperature. Researchers found it could go as low as 37 degrees Fahrenheit.
A Significant Change
The changes that this bird goes through when in torpor are quite incredible. During the day, a black metaltail’s heart can beat as often as 1,200 times a minute. However, at night, it drops all the way down to just 40 beats a minute. Going into this hibernation-like state could be fatal, with the birds dropping their body temperatures to critical levels. Without it, though, the species wouldn’t be able to preserve energy and avoid freezing in the icy conditions. The risk is one worth taking.
Given how active hummingbirds are during the day, it’s hard to imagine them basically freezing every night. They do what they have to to survive, though.
Nathan Hrushkin, a 12-year-old boy, was hiking with his dad Dion in a conservation area in Horseshoe Canyon, Canada, when they found the partially exposed fossilized bones of an ancient dinosaur. This was an amazing find for the boy, who wanted to become a paleontologist, and it seems it will kickstart his career because the fossil showed to be 69-million-year-old. It also belongs to a young hadrosaur, which is quite rare.
The Rare Fossil Belongs to a Young Hadrosaur
Nathan Hrushkin and his dad have been visiting the area for years, searching for dinosaur fossils but have so far managed to find only small bone fragments. That is, until this time around when the discovery was far more significant than just a fragment. Nathan took photos and sent them to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, and soon he got confirmation. He learned that he’d found the bones of a young duck-billed dinosaur called hadrosaur.
Horseshoe Canyon is not known for common fossil finds, so the museum quickly sent a team to check out the site. After some digging, they managed to find 30 to 50 additional bones. The four limbs, shoulders, hips, and partial skull bones showed to be of the same creature – a hadrosaur that died around the age of four. Though hadrosaurs fossils are common in the area, Nathan’s discovery is unique because the dinosaur was young and found in a rock formation.
The New Fossil Will Give Scientist New Insights On Dinosaur Evolution
Scientists know very little about the dinosaurs and other animals that lived in Alberta during the time of this young hadrosaur, and Nathan’s find will help them learn more. This information could very well fill in some of the gaps in the knowledge scientists have regarding dinosaur evolution. The partial skull is also significant because it will help then determine the exact species of hadrosaur to which it belonged.
The find was thrilling for young Nathan, who has been dreaming of becoming a paleontologist for the past seven years. According to him, it summed up everything he loves about paleontology.