Today's Tuesday Tetrapod is the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture, Gypaetus barbatus.
G. barbatus. Photo CC-BY-NC-ND by Flickr user A. Davey.
G. barbatus is a type of Old World vulture (Depending on the phylogeny, this makes them either a Falconiforme or Accipitriforme) with the unusual dietary preference of bone marrow. In part because of this, they lack the customary "bald head" of most vultures. They also have a different flight profile, with narrower wings and a wedge-shaped tail.
G. barbatus eats by reaching a carcass after it has been largely cleaned, then taking bones and dropping them from a height onto rock formations, smashing the bones into pieces small enough to ingest. They occasionally do this with turtles, possibly being the source of the apocryphal tale about the death of Greek playwright Aeschylus.
Image CC-NC-SA by Flickr user fveronesi1
Despite being threatened in its European range, G. barbatus is relatively stable over its very large range in Africa. There is also evidence for minor population decline, but it is not rapid or extreme enough to qualify for a threatened status. It is thus ranked by the IUCN as Least concern as of 2009.
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