1.26.2010

On Woodpeckers


"The awl-shaped bill hits the wood at between 20 and 25 kilometers an hour, whereupon it instantaneously decelerates at 1000G where 1G is the accelerations needed to counteract earth's gravity and 4G is what an astronaut experiences on lift off. An ordinary brain jarred hundreds of times daily by a blow to the head of this magnitude would be reduced to pulp. The woodpecker survives because it possesses two unusual features. the brain case is made of unusually dense spongy bone joined with sets of opposing muscles that appear to act as shock absorbers. And the woodpecker brings its head up and down like a metronome in a single plane, avoiding the rotational forges that would skew the brain from side to side and tear it loose from its moorings" -- E.O. Wilson

who knew?

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