Sunday, December 05, 2010

Look at that Chick!

If you didn't think that chickens were strange before, now you should.
This behavior comes from the fact that birds, just like us, can fix an object with their eyes. You can look at something and move your body without losing track of the object you are looking at. The chicken is doing just that.
But in contrast to us mammals, that bird doesn't have those nifty movable eyeballs. In order to keep its gaze fixed even though its body moves, the bird has to compensate with neck movement alone. This creates the unsettling impression of an unnaturally still head.
You can also observe similar effects with mammals, if you care to take a closer look.

You will first notice the still head of the cheetah when it is closing in at about 40 seconds into the video. But it's in the timelapse hunting scene that follows when it becomes apparent that, even at cheetah speeds, the neck muscles manage to hold the head upright, steady, and fixed on the prey at all times.

A cheetah can hold his own against this chicken any day.
But you probably suspected that.

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