Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Invigorated Muscle Structure Allows Geese To Brave The Himalayas

Date:
July 31, 2009
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
A higher density of blood vessels and other unique physiological features in the flight muscles of bar-headed geese allow them to do what even the most elite of human athletes struggle to accomplish -- assert energy at high altitudes.

A higher density of blood vessels and other unique physiological features in the flight muscles of bar-headed geese allow them to do what even the most elite of human athletes struggle to accomplish -- assert energy at high altitudes, according to a new UBC study.
Credit: Martin Dee, UBC

A higher density of blood vessels and other unique physiological features in the flight muscles of bar-headed geese allow them to do what even the most elite of human athletes struggle to accomplish – assert energy at high altitudes, according to a new University of British Columbia study.

Related Articles


Named for the dark stripes on the backs of their heads, bar-headed geese are native to South and Central Asia. Often bred in captivity as domestic garden birds, they migrate annually in the wild between India and the high altitude plateaus in China and Mongolia, flying over the world's highest mountains on their way.

"They fly at altitudes up to 9,000 metres," says UBC Zoology PhD student Graham Scott. "That's the equivalent of humans running a marathon at the altitudes commercial airlines fly."

Scott and colleagues from UBC and the University of Birmingham in the UK compared the physiology of bar-headed geese to low-altitude waterfowl such as barnacle, pink-footed and greylag geese. Their findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

"We found approximately six to 10 per cent more aerobic muscle fibres in bar-headed geese compared to low altitude birds," says Scott. "There were also more capillaries – the body's smallest blood vessels – surrounding these fibres in bar-headed geese."

The team also found that the bar-headed geese's mitochondria – the cell's power sources – are distributed closer to the cell membrane and therefore closer to capillaries.

"These traits allow oxygen to be carried and diffused more effectively to the flight muscles," says Scott. Since these physical traits are inherent even in bar-headed geese that are bred in captivity and have never flown, the researchers believe they've evolved over time specifically to survive and perform at high altitudes.

Scott had previously found that bar-headed geese also breathe more when oxygen is scarce than most other animals do, suggesting they are fine-tuned for flying high. These insights allow scientists to better understand the limitations of human physiology and potentially find ways to exceed them.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Invigorated Muscle Structure Allows Geese To Brave The Himalayas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728201743.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2009, July 31). Invigorated Muscle Structure Allows Geese To Brave The Himalayas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728201743.htm
University of British Columbia. "Invigorated Muscle Structure Allows Geese To Brave The Himalayas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728201743.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins