The prehistoric looking hoatzin is a must-see for any visitor to Cuyabeno. Infant hoatzin bear an uncanny resemblance to Archaeopteryx the first bird, whose fossilized remains established that birds evolved about one hundred millon years ago during the era of the dinosaures. When frightened, young hoatzins drop into the water below the nest and swim or dive to safety, later swimming back to the nest using their vestigal wing claws, bill and feet. The vestical claws and swimming habits are lost after a few weeks.
Their diet consist of the leaves and shoots of several lagoon plants including Monte Cardia, a water loving relative of your potted philodendren. As primary consumers of cellulos (plant matter) they have a double chambered stomach coated in bacteria to aid digestion (like a cow).
- KRICHER, John C., A Neotropical Companion, 1990
- EMMONS Louise H., Neotropical Rainforest Mammals, a Frield Guide, U. of Chicago, 1990
- BROWN William L., HILTY Steven L., A Guide to the Birds of Colombia, 1986
- FORSYTH Adraian, MIYATA Ken, Life and Death of a Neotropical Rainforest