Amazing Insights of Hummingbird Beak

We discussed how Darwin's disciples try to evosplain the origin and complexity of tongues. Now we will narrow our focus to how the beak and tongue of the hummingbird work as a unit. Some details have been known for quite a while.

Yes, I keep banging that drum about how advances in technology help scientists study the world, but this one is not just for researchers. Photography has developed (heh!) a great deal. The ability to obtain images at high speeds and some other techniques provided some answers on the hummingbird.

Hummingbird, cropped from Unsplash / Mary Kapka
The research answered some questions, but also indicated other areas of research that were needed. While evolution was insignificant in this work, homage was given to Darwin anyway. Tongues get nectar, beaks trap it, they have to swallow in such a short time: A twentieth of a second. This speaks of the work of the Creator, old son, not current forms of the Bearded Buddha's Victorian myth.
How does the bird retrieve the nectar load once the tongue retracts into the beak? Since the retraction often opposes gravity, there must be more going on than capillary action. Suction, like drinking through a straw, won’t work since the beak is unable to form a vacuum. Since the beak is opaque, what happens has been a black box—till now.

Rico-Guevara and Rubega have been refining their techniques, and now have a new model of nectar retrieval inside the beak of hummingbirds. It is described in a new open-access paper containing movie clips filmed at high speed.

Read it all by clicking on "Hummingbird Beak Is a Nectar Wringer."