Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chickens, internets, and biology


This should just be a funny piece of internets.

But unfortunately I'm a biologist and so after I got over how funny it is, I got fascinated. Its head is so incredibly motionless! How? Think about the motions it's performing with its neck and body. We can't imagine coming close to matching that. Why have they evolved this way?

I can only guess it's because birds have an incredibly developed inner ear in order to react very quickly and accurately during flight. I've previously been amazed at the balance of birds. Have you ever seen a seagull or duck with one foot that nevertheless stands effortlessly motionless? Or think whether you've ever seen a bird fail at balancing on a power line and fall off. This image demonstrates exactly how accurate their inertial sensor is and how instantly it provides feedback. I guess that's what's necessary to deal with the split-second world of flight.

TL;DR: Biology is awesome.

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