Unique animals of the Galapagos Islands Galapagos cormorants

Galapagos cormorants have forgotten how to fly because of non-growing cilia


American and Chilean biologists have discovered how the Galapagos flightless cormorant lost its ability to fly. Representatives of this species have changed the functions of proteins that regulate the growth or work of cilia (cilia – important cellular organelles), and the absence or poor functioning of cilia can affect bone growth. The study is published in Science.


Cormorants (Phalacrocorax) are waterfowl of the size of a duck or a goose, which inhabit colonies in coastal areas. Now there are about 40 species of cormorants on the planet, the only flightless of them is the Galapagos cormorant (Phalacrocorax harrisi). Their wings are shorter than those of other species, and the chest is flatter. At the same time, phylogenetic studies have shown that, unlike penguins and ratites, (ostriches, rheas, kiwi), which lost their ability to fly about 50 million years ago), the Galapagos cormorants “lost” most of their wings about two million years ago, by evolutionary standards it happened recently. Therefore, according to scientists, a fresh example of P. Harrisi can be used to study how birds lose their ability to fly.