Wattle (anatomy)

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A rooster's wattles hang from the throat

A wattle is a fleshy caruncle hanging from various parts of the head or neck in several groups of birds, mammals and other animals. A caruncle is defined as 'A small, fleshy excrescence that is a normal part of an animal's anatomy'.[1] Within this definition, caruncles in birds include wattles, dewlaps, snoods and earlobes. Wattles are generally paired structures but may occur as a single structure when it is sometimes known as a dewlap. Wattles are frequently organs of sexual dimorphism. In some birds, caruncles are erectile tissue and may or may not have a feather covering.[1][2]

Wattles are often such a striking morphological characteristic of animals that it features in their common name. For example, the Southern and Northern Cassowary are known as the Double-wattled and Single-wattled Cassowary respectively, and there is a breed of domestic pig known as the red wattle.

Birds[edit]

Function[edit]

In birds, wattles are often an ornament for courting potential mates. Large wattles are correlated with high testosterone levels, good nutrition and the ability to evade predators, which in turn indicates a potentially successful mate. It has also been proposed that ornamental organs such as wattles are associated with genes coding for disease resistance.[3]

Examples[edit]

Birds with wattles include:

Mammals[edit]

Mammals with wattles include:

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John James Audubon, Dean Amadon, John L Bull. 1967 The Birds of America
  2. ^ Richard Bowdler Sharpe. 1888. Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum, British Natural History Museum, Department of Zoology
  3. ^ "Are large wattles related to particular MHC genotypes in the male pheasant?" Mariella Baratti, Martina Ammannati, Claudia Magnelli, Alessandro Massolo and Francesco Dessì-Fulgheri
  4. ^ Hogan, C. Michael "Wild Turkey: Meleagris gallopavo", GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. N. Stromberg 2008
  5. ^ John White. 1790. Voyage to New South Wales