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Scientists deploy tiny, backpack-like devices to uncover mystery behind giant hummingbirds: 'Opens research avenues for a lifetime'

This could be a game-changer for saving species that are in danger of disappearing forever.

This could be a game-changer for saving species that are in danger of disappearing forever.

Photo Credit: iStock

Exciting news from the bird world: Scientists have discovered not one, but two different kinds of giant hummingbirds in South America.

U.S. National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow Jessie Williamson led a team of researchers that found the Giant Hummingbird, which was previously believed to be a single species, actually consists of two separate species. 

This discovery was made with the help of advanced DNA analysis and clever tracking technology, according to Interesting Engineering. Not only does the revelation change what we know about these birds, but it also showcases the incredible journeys they undertake.

These two species, now called the Northern Giant Hummingbird and the Southern Giant Hummingbird, have different habits. The Northern Giant Hummingbirds live in the Andes mountains all year round, while the Southern Giant Hummingbirds migrate between Chile and Peru, traveling an incredible 5,200 miles. This migration is one of the longest ever recorded for hummingbirds, making these tiny travelers even more remarkable.

Why is this important? For everyday people, it means we have a new appreciation for the wonders of the natural world. For the environment, understanding the different behaviors and needs of these birds can help us protect them and ensure they continue to thrive.

To track the hummingbirds, scientists used tiny backpacks — specially designed by Williamson — that don't interfere with the birds' flight. This clever invention allowed the researchers to follow the birds' movements and learn more about their incredible journeys.

"Combining migration tracking with genomics opens research avenues for a lifetime," Williamson said.

Discoveries about animals are important for keeping our planet healthy. 

They give us crucial information about the different types of life in a certain area, which is super important for making sure everything stays balanced. For example, scientists recently found out that the same gadgets we use to check air quality can also help us keep track of how many different animals live in an area. This can help us understand what's happening in ecosystems and how we can protect them better.

These discoveries also lead to cool new ways to protect animals. Take "biobanking," for instance. Scientists are basically creating frozen libraries of endangered animals' genetic material. This could be a game-changer for saving species that are in danger of disappearing forever, particularly as increasing global temperatures threaten the viability of habitats. By keeping their genetic info safe, we might even be able to bring back or strengthen populations that are getting smaller. 

These ideas all come from understanding animals better through science, showing why discoveries like the hummingbirds are important for taking care of our environment and all the creatures that live in it.

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