Snipe feeding adaptation

To: "birding aus" <>
Subject: Snipe feeding adaptation
From: "Philip A. Veerman" <>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2003 18:17:46 +1100
Isn't this just an extension of the normal feature of birds (variable among groups though obvious in parrots) called cranial kinesis. This describes the ability of birds in which the upper mandible can be moved up or down, independently of the cranium. This is achieved by moving the quadrate bone forward and backward as a lever, thus pushing the maxilla up and down, using the pterygoid bone as the link. The only difference in snipe from eg. parrots, being that instead of the hinge being at the base of the maxilla, it is near the tip, just proximal to the join of the extended pterygoid to the maxilla. This means that they can open the tip of the beak because the hinge is near the tip, rather than at the base, near the skull. Of course the lower mandible is hinged separately.
It is hard for us, as mammals, to imagine this, because we have a completely different structure with only one hinge for the lower jaw only, and that is at the dentary/squamosal. We are unable to move the upper mandible independently of the cranium.
-----Original Message-----
From: Niven <>
To: <>
Date: Sunday, 2 November 2003 10:45
Subject: Re: [BIRDING-AUS] Snipe feeding adaptation

Hi all
I followed a hunch on the name of that bill-bending feature and did an internet search. It's called "rhynchokinesis", and is apparently present to a greater or lesser extent in all(?) shorebirds, and some other birds. It is particularly used by longer billed shorebirds. The following url points to a brief abstract on a book on the exact subject, though it looks rather technical to me.

Happy birding
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