Why do some vultures have a featherless neck – or almost featherless neck?
A vulture’s head and neck are featherless as an adaptation for hygiene.
A vulture eats meat (carrion) from a dead animal (carcass). It sticks its neck into the body of the animal and pulls the flesh off the bone.
If the vulture had neck feathers, the feathers would get dirty with potential bacteria from the dead animal. The lack of feathers prevents the vulture from getting bacteria and germs.
The bare skin is also exposed to the sun, and the sun acts like a sterilizer to keep the neck free from germs.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM