Ever Wonder Why The Heck Flamingos Stand On One Leg?

Ever Wonder Why The Heck Flamingos Stand On One Leg?

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Whether they're spotted in the wild, or just covering your lawn, flamingos are known for their bright pink feathers and for, usually, standing on one leg. 

In fact, the typical flamingo stands on a single leg for hours, even in the face of high winds. 

But have you ever wondered why? 

Well, the answer is still being debated among scientists, but there are a few strong theories. 

Theory 1: It's more comfortable 

For the longest time, scientists just simply shrugged and assumed that the whole one leg sitch must be more comfortable for flamingos. A 2009 study stated that standing on one leg "enhances predatory escape", aka itallows flamingos the opportunity to start walking faster if they were being chased by predators. It also stated that it reduced muscle fatigue. Kind of like how you shift your body weight from leg to leg while standing for long periods of time, these birds are just taking that to the next level.

Theory 2: It conserves body heat

Studies have shown that flamingos prefer to stand on one leg MORE when they're in the water. What could be a conclusion to this? At first scientists thought it was to protect their legs from drying out in salt water. Most animals (including humans!) can only survive for so long in salt water without drying out. 

Buuuut that theory wasn't exactly sound, because it turns out flamingos are extremely bad ass birds. 

“Flamingos are able to tolerate these harsh conditions,” says Sara Hallager, curator of birds at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. She notes that some flamingos are found high in the Andes, braving blowing snow and freezing temperatures.

Now scientists think it might actually be to conserve body heat. 

When you are cold, it's natural to want to pull your limbs toward your body, to "keep the heat in." Same thing goes for flamingos. If they only put one leg in the water at a time, they can conserve heat in their other leg. 

Theory 3: Half their body is falling asleep 

Okay, so that last theory? It may not be true, because scientists have observed that even in warmer waters, flamingos still prefer to stand on one leg. 

Now may I present the most bizarre but soundest theory to date...

Flamingos shut off half their brain at a time. 

Yep. You read that right. Similar to whales and dolphins, who have the ability to "sleep" on only one side of the brain at a time, so they don't drown (because, remember, dolphins and whales have to rise to the surface to breathe oxygen), flamingos shut off half their brain at a time so they don't literally fall over when they go to sleep. 

Being half-awake also allows them to stay vigilant for predators.

So, what do you think?

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