Why do pigeons lose fingers and have deformed feet? Scientists agree: It’s because of human hair

Why do pigeons lose fingers and have deformed feet?  Scientists agree: It's because of human hair

Once pigeons delivered messages, today they are often seen as urban pests. They are perceived as dirty and sickly, mainly due to the fact that they often have deformed feet or missing toes. Now a team of scientists from the Natural History Museum of Paris (MNHN) and the University of Lyon has conducted research that has answered the question – why do pigeons lose their fingers?

Previous research has suggested that pigeons lose fingers due to infection or chemical pollution, but a new study suggests that human hair may be the culprit. Study co-author Frederic Jiguet of the Natural History Museum told CNN that he got the idea for the study after noticing a dozen mutilated pigeons as he walked through the Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden in Paris. “Pigeons have a very bad reputation in Paris and indeed around the world,” he said. “People think pigeons are dirty because they see them wandering on their stumps among the garbage. In fact, these birds are the victims of our actions, he added.

Scientists studied birds from 46 places in Paris. Jiguet and his team found that maimed pigeons are most commonly found in areas where hairdressers are located. All because the birds’ fingers get tangled in human hair, which causes necrosis. Pigeons also have more problems with their feet in places with more air pollution and noise. – The more human activity in an area, the fewer fingers pigeons have. And the more green areas, the more fingers pigeons have – said Jiguet.

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