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Light fantastic

Duration: 01:48

All birds need to keep their weight down. A lightweight beak means that a bird can not chew. It can only pluck, crush, tear and rip. A bird also has fewer bones than a mammal - no tail bone, one wing bone, and a slim pelvis that is fused to the backbone. The bones are hollow, though they have a lattice of cross struts to keep them strong. The most remarkable weight-saving feature is its feathers, which have a very complex structure. They have hollow quills and filaments on either side of the quills that latch together like a zip and are easily repaired.

Available since: Tue 6 Dec 2011

This clip is from

The Life of Birds The Mastery of Flight

2/10 Analysing how different species have evolved unique skills.

First broadcast: 12 Jun 2007

Image for The Mastery of Flight Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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