Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Are Birds Imposters?

It has come to my attention that fish have no legs. This makes perfect sense for them, since they are fish. So why do birds have legs? A bird is designed as a flying machine (ignoring penguins, ostriches, and so on) and yet they can’t really make a living in the air, the way fish make a living in the sea. Who are birds trying to fool with the flying stunt?

Birds need those ridiculous little stick legs for landing on wires and for hopping about in the grass. Those are not serious legs. If you really need to make your living in on the ground rather than in the air, why be designed as a grand flying machine with inadequate legs?

It’s as if humans were designed with gills, but since we make our living on dry land, we had to evolve a bubble of water over our heads to breathe. It wouldn’t be efficient.

A bird should have proper legs like a mammal or a reptile so it can get around for hunting and breeding, and if it needs to fly, then some auxiliary wings. An eagle is a reasonable design, since it has substantial legs for hunting from the air, although it doesn’t walk well.

Geese should be embarrassed to walk. What sense does it make to be a bird that eats grass? Why not put wings on a cow?

Birds are really terrestrial animals just pretending to live aeronautically. Imposters, all. (Except raptors, perhaps.)

The ideal bird would be able to make its living entirely in the air, by intercepting insects the way bats do, or by filtering tiny organisms out of the air, as whales do from the water.

The basic problem with birds is that they are heavier than air so they can’t stay up all the time. The ideal bird would be about the same density as air. Then it could live in the medium for which it was designed. It wouldn’t need legs and I would feel better about that.