ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Birds: Freaky Evolutions

Updated on March 18, 2015

Descendants of Dinosaurs

In my article Dinosaurs With Feathers: Fascinating Aspects I highlighted the reasons dinosaurs being the originating source for feathers on modern birds. In the article Top Five Strangest Evolutionary Traits I highlighted that birds, being the descendants of dinosaurs, retained some physical aspects of their dinosaur ancestors. In this article, I am going to acknowledge some of the more surreal evolutionary traits that birds have acquired over the years. Some of these evolutionary traits were meant to help compensate for the overspecialization of certain species. Some birds, like the hummingbird, look cute, but due to its body needing constant nourishment, certain physical modifications had to be developed. Another bird, the Shrike, was a predatory bird that did not possess the caws of its prehistoric ancestors, evolution gave it the necessary amount of intelligence to used its surroundings as a substitute tool for gripping prey. Another flying bird, the Harpy Eagle was similar to the Cassowary in that they both possessed traits that supported the idea that birds were the descendants of predatory dinosaurs and could still retain that ancient ferocity that the ancient creatures most likely had. Mostly by the use of the giant talons that had giant claws that could grip huge amounts of meat while flying off. Birds were freaky not only because of the scientific evidence that they came from giant reptiles that were anatomic opposites compared to birds, but nature has decided to gift some birds with unique abilities and features that emphasized how evolution could grant creatures some unorthodox gifts.

For a bird whose life was spent primarily in the air, getting a tongue that could catch things in the air was useful. And terrifying.
For a bird whose life was spent primarily in the air, getting a tongue that could catch things in the air was useful. And terrifying. | Source


Hummingbirds were some of the smallest bird specimens ever. One of the more interesting aspects about the hummingbird's anatomy was made to give it some impressive flight patterns. Unfortunately, the hummingbird needed a lot of energy to be able to stay aloft. Especially since its wings were made to beat endless at a rapid pace every time this bird flew. As a result, this particular bird needed energy to keep up with its body. Thus the evolutionary changes that the tongue of the hummingbird came into play. Used to gather flower nectar, tree sap, insects, and pollen, the tongue of a typical hummingbird was the freaky aspect not a lot of people want to know about the hummingbird. For one thing, the hummingbird's tongue was twice as long as its beak, which made it suitable at getting the nectar inside of a flower. To have the capability to acquire the nectar inside of a flower, the hummingbird's tongue was basically a pair of tubes which opened-up when the tongue reached the flower's nectar. Now opened, the two tongue segments could catch nectar while the hummingbird was flying. Once ready to move onto another flower, the two tongue segments rolled into its previous position and retreat back into the bird's mouth. Amazingly, this process took a few seconds to perform. Of course, the perform this action, the tongue had to undergo some changes. Magnified using modern electron microscope images, the viewer could see the horror that was the tongue of the world's tiniest bird. This tongue basically looked like some nightmarish worm without any eyes. And since this tongue could split into two tubes, its forked tip looked like something from a snake, which was more strange than scary. But still very weird.


Dimosaurs in the media were portrayed as being both vicious and intelligent. When it came to humans, dinosaurs were able to elude humans long enough to become credible threats to the more evolved species, and vicious enough that all predatory dinosaurs were capable of causing untold amounts of carnage whenever they were interacting with humans. Needless to say, birds provided specimens where people could see displays of both intelligence and savagery. Specifically, the shrike. Primarily inhabiting Africa and Eurasia, the shrike looked like any generic tiny bird. Ironically, the shrike has developed an interesting method of consuming food while sitting. Once this bird found its prey, it grabbed the prey, flew it to a particularly thorny branch, and proceeded to impale the victim onto a thorn. Nature normally gave different creatures strange methods and abilities when it came to getting food, but those creatures were normally invertebrates or predators that actually rather low on the food chain. This was a bird, a creature that could have picked a less gruesome method of feeding. And not only was its feeding via impaling a freaky way for it to consume its diet of small lizards, mice, snakes, insects, and other birds, this form of feeding was used in the shrike's mating rituals. By filling a thorny bush or cactus with freshly impaled victims, the male shrike basically told the female shrike that he could provide an ample supply of food within his territory. With a display that stated that this area was filled with enough food to raise a family, both shrikes become a mated pair and find their own place to fill with the impaled bodies of their food supply.

All creatures developed some method of keeping their food in one place. This bird used the impalement of sharp objects. Which kind of made sense on some level.
All creatures developed some method of keeping their food in one place. This bird used the impalement of sharp objects. Which kind of made sense on some level. | Source
A harpy eagle with a fresh kill. Note the giant claws.
A harpy eagle with a fresh kill. Note the giant claws. | Source

Harpy Eagle

Predatory birds, referred to as raptors, were most likely the most physically imposing of the bird species. Take the Harpy Eagle for example. This was a bird that could do things that one would think was impossible for a bird. Take for instance, its claws. With a crushing grip of 530 pounds per square inch, this bird had a stronger grip than an average human, which was about 60 pounds per square inch, and the grips of dog and wolf bites, which were 320 and 400 pounds per square inch. And like all raptors, this bird used its grip to catch prey, take them somewhere safe, and consume them safely. And even its claws were freakishly large. This bird's talons were 5-inches, which were the size of grizzly bear claws. The Harpy Eagle was built to easily catch prey from the trees, which came in handy because one of the sources of food this bird ate was the Sloth. And if one were to see a Harpy Eagle eat its prey, the display of brutality and efficiency in its hunting abilities was quite visceral. Like a Jaguar who used its fangs to crush the skulls of its prey, the Harpy Eagle used its claws to also crush the skulls of its prey, but also crunch bone, pierce the spinal cord, rip through flesh, this was a bird that put the cinematic depictions of of prehistoric ancestors killing and eating humans to shame with the efficiency of how the Harpy Eagle could kill its victims with minimal collateral damage. But it made sense since this bird perfected its hunting abilities through generations and natural evolution.


Birds were the descendants of dinosaurs. While they were capable of surviving the event that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, that did not mean that birds could not stop developing new ways to adapt to its ever-changing surroundings. This has resulted in some interesting evolutionary traits. Mostly freaky ones.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      " Sadly, the only thing that will do them in now are humanity and the lack of habitat."

      Why don't they just evolve some more?

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      "Birds were the descendants of dinosaurs."

      No, they weren't.

    • Jake Peralta profile imageAUTHOR

      Jake Michael Peralta 

      3 years ago from Indio, California

      Or some intergalactic disaster. Who knows.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Birds and reptiles evolved, as they were capable of doing it. Survival of the fittest was always the way to ensure survival of the species, but these animals took it several steps further to become what they are today. Have they changed much? Not really. Sadly, the only thing that will do them in now are humanity and the lack of habitat.

    • Jake Peralta profile imageAUTHOR

      Jake Michael Peralta 

      3 years ago from Indio, California

      Uh, the shrike impaling living things on thorns is beautiful?

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      3 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I love the birds we have now. They are all beautiful to me. I don't believe in evolution, I believe that God made all the beautiful birds. It was an interesting hub and voted up.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      The shrike is brutal, lol.

    • Jake Peralta profile imageAUTHOR

      Jake Michael Peralta 

      3 years ago from Indio, California

      Thank you.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 

      3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Very interesting article, jake. What drew me in was the image of a bird's tongue, though. I thought "What the hell does a really monstrous-looking split worm have to do with bird evolution?". Of course, when I found out it was a hummingbird's tongue and read on, it became clear. Great example of the power of images to draw in and supplement a well-written article. Great videos, too.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Hi Jake, great article. Really interesting to see how evolution has provided for various species and the skills and abilities they have as a result. Although that harpy eagle looks a mighty scary creature!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is really interesting. Gives me an insight into how we need to evolve to survive.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)