why do water birds have webbed feet

Ducks, geese, and swans all have webbed feet. The primary use for webbed feet is paddling through water. Here's how it works: as the bird pulls its foot backwards through the water, the toes spread apart, causing the webs to spread out. The webs push more water than just a bird foot with spread-out toes would push. (It would be like trying to swim with your fingers spread apart. ) The webbed feet propel the bird through the water. When the bird pulls its foot forward for the next push, the toes come together, folding up the webs. The foot is instantly less resistant, moving through the water easily to get into place for the next stroke without pushing the bird backwards. Webbed feet are useful on land as well as on water because they allow birds to walk more easily on mud.


Some birds like the Northern Pintail or Mallard have webbing between three of their toes. Each bird has a fourth toe located behind the webbing that does not help in propelling the bird through the water. This type of webbed foot is known as
palmate that is, shaped like an open hand or palm. The other type of webbed foot has webbing between all four of the bird's toes. This type of webbed foot is known as totipalmate "toti" meaning total and "palmate" meaning open hand or palm. Most swimming or paddling birds have their legs and feet located at the rear of their body. This adaptation is an advantage on the water it helps to propel the birds along.


But what's good on the water isn't necessarily good on land. Having their legs and feet located at the rear of their body makes walking more difficult for these birds. Have you ever noticed that some animals have bodies that are odd looking? Animal bodies that seem strange are usually made that way for a reason. Through thousands of years, animals' bodies have adapted, or changed, to suit the needs of each animal. Examples of these adaptations might be very long noses for catching insects or eyes on the side of the head to watch for predators. One common adaptation is webbed feet. If you look at a duck's foot, you'll see that their toes are connected by a thin piece of skin. This is what makes a webbed foot.


Why would some animals have webbed feet? Most animals with webbed feet are aquatic animals who live in, on, or near the water. Webbed feet help them move quickly through the water when they are chasing food or trying to escape from predators. Have you ever worn swim fins? We put them on our feet to help us swim faster. Webbed feet do the same thing. They also help animals walk on muddy ground, which can be slippery. In addition to ducks, many different kinds of birds have webbed feet. These include geese, swans, petrels, albatrosses, flamingos, terns, and puffins. Some gulls and penguins also have webbed feet. One group of birds, including pelicans and related birds like cormorants, darters, gannets, frigatebirds, and tropicbirds, have very broad, webbed feet that help them swim very well.


This group of birds is the only group that has webbing between all four of their toes; most other birds only have webbing between three toes. Some amphibians and reptiles also have webbed feet, and they use them in the same ways as birds. Webbed feet come in handy for swimming quickly through the water. Crocodiles and alligators have webbed back feet. Some turtles have webbed feet, but tortoises, which spend their time on land, don't. Similarly, aquatic frogs, which live in water, have webbed feet, but frogs that live on land, such as tree frogs, don't have webbed feet because they don't need them.

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