Sunday, 7 April 2013

#415 In the studio: Bird anatomy, con't . . .

Please start this bird anatomy series with post #403, March 10.

Like humans and quadrupeds, birds are vertebrates . . . meaning they have a backbone.  Nature has designed just one pattern for all vertebrate mammals.  All mammals, humans, horses, dogs, bears, deer, cats, and interestingly, even giraffes have 7 neck vertebrae.  Birds, on the other hand, have a very flexible neck consisting of 13 - 25 neck vertebrae.

At the other end of the spinal column, humans have a coccyx, mammals have a tail, and birds have a pygostyle.  During the course of evolution, birds have gradually lost the part of the backbone that makes up the tail . . . the tail has been replaced by feathers that are attached to the pygostyle, which is actually a bone structure covered with muscle and flesh.  Look at the supermarket chicken on the right and you will see the pygostyle . . . colloquially known as the "pope's nose."  Upon examining the pygostyle, you will notice the holes on the fleshy shape where the tail feathers emerge and fan out.

Why is this important to the bird artist?   The bird artist must know how the skeleton is arranged, 
how it articulates, and where the tail feather group originates.

Comparison of vertebrates . . . human and quadruped above and bird below
Concept, after Elliot Goldfinger.

Copyright - Sandy Scott

Below is a drawing of a wild turkey.  The magnificent bird has 18 long, stiff tail feathers and a gobbler in full display, 
with tail feathers fanned, is one of nature's most exquisite visual gifts.

Copyright - Sandy Scott

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