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Temperature fits the bill


In baby birds, ambient temperature can set beak size.

Gary Burness of Trent University in Peterborough, Canada, and his colleagues raised 40 Japanese quail hatchlings (Coturnix japonica; pictured) at high (30 °C) or low (15 °C) temperatures. After 51 days, the hatchlings raised in warm conditions had longer bills than the chilled chicks. Beak growth in cold-reared chicks caught up after all birds were moved to an intermediate temperature, but the surface temperature of their beaks was, on average, 7.4 °C lower than that of birds reared at warmer temperatures, suggesting less blood flow.


Cold conditions soon after hatching may irreversibly inhibit blood flow or blood-vessel development in beaks.

Proc. R. Soc. B. 280, 20131436 (2013)

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Temperature fits the bill. Nature 500, 9 (2013).

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