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Readers ponder animal flight

Reader feedback on the June 11, 2016, issue of Science News

4:14pm, July 27, 2016

Flightless perks

Galápagos cormorants are the only cormorant species with wings too small to fly, and broken cellular antennae that transmit garbled developmental messages are probably to blame, Tina Hesman Saey reportedin “How a Galápagos bird got tiny wings” (SN: 6/11/16, p. 11).

Online reader Mark S. wondered if the inability to fly conveyed any advantages to the cormorants.

It appears so, says evolutionary biologist Alejandro Burga of UCLA. The Galápagos cormorant may be flightless, but it’s a great diver. “Shorter wings can be advantageous for diving because they decrease bouyancy by decreasing the number of

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