According to researchers Young-Hui Chang and Lena H. Ting, flamingos adopt this pose because it is more comfortable and easier for them to stand like this.
After watching videos of eight young flamingos from the Atlanta Zoo, they realized that not only do they find it easier to sleep on one of their legs but when they were sleepy or resting, they swayed much less when standing on one of their legs. that when they were awake, standing on both legs.
In this way, they developed the hypothesis that flamingos have a kind of “locked” resting position that allows them to stay in place as long as they are standing on one of their legs.
Why Do Flamingos Stand On One Leg?
To prove this they investigated the musculoskeletal system of two deceased flamingos from the Birmingham Zoo by placing their carcasses in that position, from what they discovered that even after death, flamingos can stand on one leg only.
In this sense, the researchers suggest that their legs have evolved so that it is possible for flamingos to rest all their weight on one of their legs without having to use their muscles to maintain balance.
About this, according to Matthew Anderson, an expert in animal behavior, explains that this behavior helps them regulate their body temperature. According to a study carried out by this researcher, flamingos start to stand on one of their legs when temperatures drop in their natural environment.
However, it has not yet been possible to replicate these results; Furthermore, it has been observed that flamingos prefer to stand on one of their legs most of the time, regardless of the temperature.
Other experts say that, just like dolphins and some other animals, only one side of flamingos’ brains sleeps at a time, suggesting that these birds raise their legs on one side of their body because the other side is resting.
The truth is that the legs of flamingos are genetically designed to make it easier and more comfortable for them to adopt this position, which represents a lower energy expenditure that can be used in other activities such as foraging for food.
Finally, experts explain that flamingos prefer to sleep standing up due to the adverse conditions in their environment; that is, taking into account that their ecosystems are usually quite toxic due to their alkalinity levels, when standing up they avoid irritating their delicate skin since the scaly skin of their legs is strong enough to support it.