By Roni Dengler Nov. 6, 2017 , 3:00 PM
The bills of even newly hatched ducks might be as sensitive as our hands, as touch sensors in their beaks are as abundant as those in our fingertips and palms. That’s the takeaway of new research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that describes the origins of touchiness in the common duck’s quacker. Researchers knew that duck bills can sense light touch but have muted responsiveness to temperature. This comes in handy (or bill-y) since the birds forage for food in cold, murky bottom waters. Now, researchers find the sensors duck bills use to perceive touch work even before hatching.