Science

Science

(By Coen Elemans)
Monday, July 14, 2008

SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT

The European starling, along with the zebra finch and possibly many other songbirds, has the fastest-contracting muscles of any vertebrate yet studied, researchers say. Coen Elemans, then at the University of Utah, and colleagues elsewhere found that the starlings, which are ubiquitous across Eurasia and North America, can contract their vocal muscles 100 times as fast as humans can blink their eyes. These super-fast muscles enable the birds to change the volume and frequency of their song more quickly than had been thought possible. The study was published July 9 in the journal PLoS ONE.


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