Not much surprises the oilbird. Its senses are super sharp and when combined, may function in a way that can inspire researchers to construct better drones and more advanced technology.
All animals use a combination of several different senses to cope. But where the majority typically rely on one or two sensory systems, which are especially sensitive, the oilbird excels by apparently having keen senses all-around.
In addition to its extremely sensitive vision, the oilbird has the neural foundation for an excellent sense of smell, bristles by the beak for tactile sensation and it also uses its hearing for echolocation, which we find otherwise pretty much only in bats and toothed whales.
- This complex sensory apparatus, where the animal has the ability to combine input from so many well-developed senses, is interesting to study, says Signe Brinkløv, postdoc in the Sound, Communication and Behaviour Group at the Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark.
As a biologist, she is interested in understanding how the oilbird uses its senses to achieve the best possible conditions in its natural surroundings.
From a more applied perspective, she is fascinated by how researchers' knowledge of animal sensory systems can be used in the world of humans.