I’ve been seeing lots of woodpeckers around recently, so here’s a re-blog of a post I made last year.
Ever wonder why woodpeckers, renowned for their ability to slam their heads into wood in search of food, don’t get concussions? There are a number of logical factors at play: their brains fit snugly in their skulls so the brain itself doesn’t go careening in every direction under impact, bruising itself against the skull wall like human brains do; they are much smaller animals, so the matter of scale comes into play when considering this question (picture throwing a ball of paper and a ball of lead against a tree); and they are simply built differently, with their brains situated at a different angle in their skulls than ours are and surrounded by web-like bones to diffuse the impact.
There are many answers to this seemingly simple question of how woodpeckers avoid head injuries (I’ve linked to some more below), but my favorite rationale is that their tongues serve as an…
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