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Name: Nick
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: Outside U.S.
Country: Canada
Date: Winter 2011-2012


Question:
Since the bird Emu is flightless, do their wings server another purpose? Also have they always been flightless?



Replies:
Nick: Emu wings are vestigial, meaning they probably serve no purpose now. The emu as a species is flightless, but most likely evolved from ancestors that had wings. This from http://tolweb.org/treehouses/?treehouse_id=4729 may help. "The Emu has lost almost all need for the function of its wings. Through evolutionary time, their wing skeleton has degraded to only a single functional digit. In accordance with a reduced skeleton, there have been significant reductions in the muscles of the wing, even when comparing the Emu to other non-flying birds. Still, many muscles show diversity in their shape, where they are attached to the bone ,and whether they are even present or not. Evolutionary theory predicts that relaxed selection on vestigial organs should allow more variation to persist in the population, and this corresponds to what is observed in Emu populations."

J. Elliott


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