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Matriarch Tinamou

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Matriarch tinamou

The tiny male matriarch tinamou spends his entire life as a parasite on the back of a female. The male has large claws on its feet and a single claw on each wing.

The matriarch tinamou, Gynomorpha parasitica, is an odd tinamine tinamou from the tropical forests of South America, in After Man: A Zoology of the Future. It is one of the strangest birds of these regions with a peculiar sexual dimorphism: females look like ordinary tinamous while males are smaller, flightless and hummingbird-like. Its breeding method is similar to that of some species of anglerfish.

The female of the species is a ground-living bird, resembling a typical-looking tinamou, very much larger than the male whom she carries around on her back. The male's wings and digestive system are degenerate and he is entirely parasitic on the female, sucking her blood through his needle-shaped beak. The male's only biological function is to provide sperm during mating. This relationship arises from the species' low population density, which makes it an advantage for each female to have a mate constantly available rather than to search for one each breeding season.

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