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Nature & Environment

Why do flamingos stand on only one leg ?

By T.K. Randall
May 24, 2017 · Comment icon 14 comments

Flamingos are known to spend long periods standing on one leg. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Pedros Szekely
Scientists have determined that flamingos prefer to stand on one leg as it helps them conserve energy.
One of the most unique and vibrantly colored bird species on the planet, flamingos, with their bright pink feathers and tendency to stand on only one leg, are unmistakable.

Exactly why they should adopt this peculiar stance however has long remained a bit of a mystery.

Now though, a team of researchers in the US may have finally found the answer and it is all to do with a phenomenon known as "passive gravitational stay mechanism."

The scientists found that, even when dead, a flamingo's body will still stand upright on one leg without any external support, yet on two legs the cadaver will fall over uncontrollably.
"If you look at the bird from the front, while they're standing on one leg, the foot is directly beneath the body which means that their leg is angled inward," said Professor Young-Hui Chang.

"That's the pose you have to strike in order to engage the stay mechanism."

When standing on one leg therefore, a flamingo is simply expending as little energy as possible because using one leg rather than two requires no active muscular effort.

This allows the birds to stand ( and even sleep ) on one leg for long periods of time.

Source: BBC News | Comments (14)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by Matt221 6 years ago
Energy saving flamingos that's not summat I thought I'd ever say
Comment icon #6 Posted by FlyingAngel 6 years ago
Good, since they dont use it. We can farm and sell fried-mingo legs in restaurant
Comment icon #7 Posted by Timonthy 6 years ago
You are still right with the heat loss, it's pretty much exactly the same thing. Their legs/feet aren't insulated, so losing heat means more energy burned to stay warm. 
Comment icon #8 Posted by ROGER 6 years ago
Why do flamingos stand on only one leg ? Cause if they lift the other they fall on their backside ! Dah !
Comment icon #9 Posted by Torviking 6 years ago
Have scientists really got nothing else to do? Jeeeze.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Matt221 6 years ago
It a lot of time and money to study such important stuff plus it means you can cop out of proper studys
Comment icon #11 Posted by freetoroam 6 years ago
so basically they have stated what has already been stated in the past.  
Comment icon #12 Posted by Matt221 6 years ago
Next thing they'll be telling us Dolphins sleep with one eye open 
Comment icon #13 Posted by ChaosRose 6 years ago
Ok...true story. I sometimes do the tree pose when I'm trying to fall asleep. Maybe I'm conserving energy?
Comment icon #14 Posted by third_eye 6 years ago
After a good day of meditating I can almost do it with both the legs tucked in ... ~

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