Woodpeckers don't have built-in shock absorbers to protect their brain

Woodpeckers don't have built-in shock absorbers to protect their brain

It was allowed that spongy bone in woodpeckers ’ heads gentled their smarts from hard knocks, but in fact their craniums are stiff like a hammer

Woodpeckers ’ craniums are n’t erected to absorb shock, but rather to deliver a harder and more effective hit into wood.

Woodpeckers hammer their beaks onto tree caddies to communicate, to look for food or to produce a depression for nesting. Spongy bone between the catcalls ’ smarts and beaks was formerly allowed to buffer their smarts from the repetitious blows. But the towel actually helps their heads valve fleetly and deeply with minimum energy use, much like a well- designed hammer, says Sam Van Wassenbergh at the University of Antwerp in Belgium.

“ We had a feeling that this did n’t make any sense, this shock immersion( proposition), ” he says. “ A hammer with shock immersion erected into it's simply a bad hammer. ”

Van Wassenbergh and his associates analysed 109 high- speed vids of six interned catcalls as they pounded on wood two black woodpeckers( Dryocopus martius), two pileated woodpeckers( Dryocopus pileatus) and two great spotted woodpeckers( Dendrocopos major).

They set up that, in the milliseconds after a beak strike into the wood, the catcalls ’ eyes and heads braked down at basically the same rate as the beaks did – meaning that the spongy bone in front of the eye was n’t compressing, nor absorbing, the goods of the blow.

The platoon also created digital models of pecking woodpeckers to test what would be if the spongy bone did absorb shock. While the bumper would lead to lower jarring for the brain, it also meant that the catcalls ’ beaks could n’t drive as deeply into the wood, says Van Wassenbergh. In fact, in order to get a deeper megahit into the tree, the catcalls would have to work harder with indeed more important strikes of the head, in effect cancelling out any benefits of shock immersion.

Despite the lack of shock immersion, the platoon set up that the catcalls ’ smarts are n’t at threat of a concussion because the impact is n’t strong enough. Given the size and weight of woodpecker smarts, positioned inside fluid- filled cases in their craniums , they would only sustain brain damage if they pecked doubly as presto as they naturally do, or if they hit shells four times harder than their natural wood targets.

“ It’s just normal that a lower organism can repel these advanced( forces), ” says Van Wassenbergh, drawing a resemblant with canvases hitting windows at indeed advanced forces “ They just take off and fly again. ”

The term “ spongy bone ” does n’t mean that the bone is soft or can compress, he says. Rather, it indicates that the bone is pervious and featherlight – which is critical for flying catcalls. “ The bone is just strong enough for the function that it needs to do, ” he says.

Journal reference Current Biology, DOI10.1016/j.cub.2022.05.052

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