An Interesting Biological Phenomena.

It might surprise you to know that I actually grew up in the country, living about 30 mins outside Canberra until I was 20. Whilst I wasn’t living on a farm per se I had a couple friends who did and we’d often be up there causing all sorts of mischief with the animals. Our favourite group of animals to mess with were the chickens as there’s a lot of fun things you can do with them that result in some really intriguing behaviours. For the most part we just found interesting ways to hypnotize them (like stroking their tummy or holding their head to the ground while you draw a line in the dirt away from it) but one of the most interesting things I saw was this uncanny ability:

Chickens, it seems, have a kind of internal inertial measurement unit that allows them to sense movements and adjust their body accordingly. I can’t find an exact explanation for it, most likely it’s advantageous to be able to fix your head position whilst stalking prey, but it seems to be a common thing across many different bird species. Where I hadn’t seen this phenomena before was outside the avian family but it seems that it might be a much wider spread adaptation than I had first thought:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zUZCMEXEqQ

Now I can tell you that this particular trait doesn’t appear to be common as this is the first cat I’ve seen that’s been able to do this. Indeed attempting the same thing with my current furry companion only serves to create a whirling dervish of hate and contempt for the entire human race. I’m wondering if its specific to the breed or hereditary line as it would be interesting to see if other, similar cats exhibited the same trait.

I just find things like this incredibly fascinating as whilst we’ve found a use for things like this (like in the first video where he creates a chicken steadicam) its obvious that the same idea has some use in the biological world. Indeed we’ve gained much from observing nature and then replicating it through our technological processes and suffice to say that without said inspiration we’d probably be no where near as advanced as we are today.

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  1. Strap an iPhone to the chicken’s head and you have yourself the perfect camera stablisation platform! 🙂

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