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Pigeon thermoregulation

Scott Echols, Scarlet Imaging and the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project

All animals possess unique variations in their anatomy that help them adapt to their environment. Scott Echols is a member of the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, which has been established to create technology that allows the world to study the anatomy of any animal. Discoveries made through the project have already been used when working with a large variety of animals, including humans.

BriteVu, a novel contrast agent developed during the project, allows researchers to see the entire network of blood vessels in an animal, down to the capillary level. Images are taken from computed tomography scans. The intricate network of blood vessels in this pigeon’s neck is just visible at the bottom of the picture. This extensive blood supply just below the skin helps the pigeon control its body temperature through a process known as thermoregulation.

The image measures approximately 40 cm (w) x 50 cm (h).

Imaging technique: Computed tomography (CT) and digital imaging

CT uses X-rays to take virtual slices of the body to show the location of the blood vessels and the bones of the skeleton. The blood vessels of this pigeon were first injected with BriteVu, a novel contrast agent that causes even the smallest capillaries to be detectable by CT scan. CT image data was then compiled to produce the image shown here.

Location where image was created

Utah, USA

Image creator

Scott grew up in Dallas in Texas, USA, and completed his undergraduate and veterinary school studies at Texas A&M University. His favourite aspect of the collaborative Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, out of which this image was produced, is working with brilliant people to solve problems related to human and animal health and disease – he gets to help researchers find answers that change the world. Find out more.

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