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The hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) is a species of medium sized bird native to the Amazon and Orinoco deltas of South America. It is a notable species for its mysterious evolutionary background and some of its unique traits.
Hoatzin are completely herbivorous, eating almost entirely leaves with some flower and fruit. They are unique in that their crops, generally used for storage of extra food in most birds, are used for fermentation of the leaves they consume in a process similar to that of ruminants. This fermentation gives them a distinct, unpleasant odor comparable to manure, earning them the nickname “stinkbird”. Due to this stench, humans only hunt them in times of starvation, stating that they also have a poor taste. They also have few other predatory threats, presumably for the same reasons.
The hoatzin is a clumsy bird that has difficulty flying due to its enlarged crop which takes up space for its keel and flight muscles. When predators like black hawks do attack, adults scramble around the branches of their trees to cause confusion while the young retreat to cover from the exposed nests. If they fall, the young have the ability to climb back up by using a claw that grows from each wing, unique to these birds. This claw disappears into adulthood. In dire emergencies, young will purposefully throw themselves from the tree tops and into the water below where they can swim below the surface, and then use their claws to climb back up.
The evolutionary origins of the hoatzin has been the subject of heavy debate with no real answer having been found. At various times it has been placed near the gamebirds, cuckoos, doves, and many others. The advent of genetic testing has proven worthless thus far, as it has apparently no close relatives. Currently, its entire genome is being processed in the hopes that more genetic material could help resolve this issue, only exacerbated by the surprisingly limited amount of bird genetics available, with the genomes of only four species having been unraveled.

The clawed wing of a hoatzin chick.

The hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) is a species of medium sized bird native to the Amazon and Orinoco deltas of South America. It is a notable species for its mysterious evolutionary background and some of its unique traits.

Hoatzin are completely herbivorous, eating almost entirely leaves with some flower and fruit. They are unique in that their crops, generally used for storage of extra food in most birds, are used for fermentation of the leaves they consume in a process similar to that of ruminants. This fermentation gives them a distinct, unpleasant odor comparable to manure, earning them the nickname “stinkbird”. Due to this stench, humans only hunt them in times of starvation, stating that they also have a poor taste. They also have few other predatory threats, presumably for the same reasons.

The hoatzin is a clumsy bird that has difficulty flying due to its enlarged crop which takes up space for its keel and flight muscles. When predators like black hawks do attack, adults scramble around the branches of their trees to cause confusion while the young retreat to cover from the exposed nests. If they fall, the young have the ability to climb back up by using a claw that grows from each wing, unique to these birds. This claw disappears into adulthood. In dire emergencies, young will purposefully throw themselves from the tree tops and into the water below where they can swim below the surface, and then use their claws to climb back up.

The evolutionary origins of the hoatzin has been the subject of heavy debate with no real answer having been found. At various times it has been placed near the gamebirds, cuckoos, doves, and many others. The advent of genetic testing has proven worthless thus far, as it has apparently no close relatives. Currently, its entire genome is being processed in the hopes that more genetic material could help resolve this issue, only exacerbated by the surprisingly limited amount of bird genetics available, with the genomes of only four species having been unraveled.

The clawed wing of a hoatzin chick.

2 years ago

  1. the-burkle-persona reblogged this from morelikegazoinksbo
  2. morelikegazoinksbo reblogged this from rhamphotheca
  3. thequiveringforest reblogged this from rhamphotheca and added:
    Saw lots of these in Ecuador. Beautiful and intriguing birds :)
  4. rek reblogged this from pointed-glances
  5. stephthepleph reblogged this from eximago
  6. aintitwonderfultofeel reblogged this from j-barnes
  7. j-barnes reblogged this from rhamphotheca and added:
    Hoatzin Opisthocomus hoazin The hoatzin is a species of medium sized bird native to the Amazon and Orinoco deltas of...
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  11. radicalclavicle reblogged this from geoducks and added:
    groovy
  12. geoducks reblogged this from eximago and added:
    Hoatzins tie with secretary birds as the coolest fucking birds ever.
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