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Nature's Blood-Suckers and Brain-Eaters

By Laura Dattaro
Published: October 23, 2013

Vampire Finch

The vampire finch drinks the blood of larger seabirds. (Peter Wilton/Wikimedia Commons)

Eating blood and brains, while generally left to horror movies, is actually not that uncommon in nature — including humans, who have been known to prepare foods like brain fritters and blood sausage. In the wild, the behavior is found in insects, birds, even marsupials. In honor of Halloween, here we take a look at a few of nature's blood-suckers and brain-eaters.

First up, the vampire finch.

The finches of the Galapagos Islands helped Darwin unravel the mysteries of evolution with their distinct beaks, each adapted to a specific source of food. The beak of Geospiza difficilis septentrionalis, for example, is particularly long and sharp, perfectly evolved for pecking holes at the base large feathers, from which it laps up blood like a lion at a watering hole, bird expert Kenn Kaufman told Weather.com. The behavior may have started symbiotically, with the finches picking ticks and flies off of the seabirds for lunch, but is now reduced to vampirism, earning the little birds the name vampire finch.

NEXT: A butterfly that feasts on corpses


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