Skip Navigation

Go
Species Search:
Articles

On the Wild Side: Strange news from the World of Wildlife!

Knock on Wood

There's a reason construction workers don't operate jackhammers with their foreheads. Well, there are several reasons, but one is to avoid concussions. But what protects the woodpecker from similar injuries?

For starters, the woodpecker maintains a perfectly straight strike as it bores into a tree like a machine almost which minimizes the rotational forces on its brain. And it's these rotational forces that sever neuronal connections and result in concussions.

Also, the woodpecker's brain fits snugly in its skull, and the bone around the brain is dense yet somewhat forgiving. Experts have likened this bone to the foam inside crash helmets. The muscles in the woodpecker's head, which contract to absorb and distribute shocks, provide further protection. The same holds true for the woodpecker's tongue, the base of which wraps around the bird's brain.

Click here to learn more about woodpeckers.

 

 

 

 

 

2007 eNature.com