Scientists solve mystery behind bird egg shape

Avatar By Tyler MacDonald | 1 year ago

A team of scientists just discovered why guillemot eggs have their strangle shape—a centuries-old mystery that has stumped biologists for hundreds of years.

A previous theory suggested that the egg’s pointed shape evolved to aid its arc-like rolling motion in order to prevent it from rolling off of a cliff while being incubated on a cliff ledge. Now, a new study reveals that the shape actually evolved to keep the egg in place and prevent it from rolling away at all.

“Guillemots are one of the most fascinating species of birds that we have in the UK, however they are often overshadowed by their neighbour, the puffin,” said Tim Birkhead of the University of Sheffield. “This is mostly because people love the way puffins look, but in terms of behaviour, guillemots are much more interesting for nature enthusiasts to watch.”

“Apart from looking cute, Puffins don’t really do much at the colony,” he added. “In contrast, watching guillemots is like watching nature’s very own soap opera: a never-ending mix of marital affection, infidelity and strife. And, in terms of keeping a health check on the oceans, you can’t beat guillemots since we can survey their numbers, survival and breeding success more easily accurately than almost any other seabird.”

The groundbreaking study dispels the old belief that the pointed eggs evolved to promote an arc-like rolling motion and highlights the fascinating nature of guillemot eggs, which are considered to be one of the most beautiful eggs in the world.

The findings were published in The Auk.