When you wish upon a furcula ~ Comparative anatomy in our avian friends

My new local coffee shop (The Raven’s Nest) has my mind with the birds.



Quoth the Raven: “I’m a gif, click for rotation”

It is so interesting how similar anatomy is between different animals! There are little tweaks here and there for functional differences of course, but it is very grounding to know we are all made of the same parts.

I’ve seen several patients with fractured clavicles (“collar bone”) and it is often seen in younger athletes. It is a very interesting pair of bones. In humans, it is the first to start ossifying (hardening) as a fetus but it is also one of the last to completely develop. Often not until the late teens or twenties. It’s location and the fact that it takes so long to develop may be one of the reasons it is a very commonly broken bone.

In humans, the two clavicles (clavicle = “little key” in Latin) connect to the sternum (your breast bone) in the center of your chest. In birds, the clavicles are joined together to form a furcula (which means “little fork” in Latin). This single unit acts as a strut, which offers more stability for a bird’s substantial pectoral muscles during flight.

It is also the bone we split after holiday meals, vying for the long end of the “wishbone”. In my case, wishing I could fly.


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