Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ostrich - A Massive, Flightless Nomad

Ostrich

Yesterday we learned about a tiny, hyperactive movie star from Colorado. Today features a massive, flightless nomad from Africa. Ostriches are world famous for their "buried-head" hiding strategy. When an ostrich senses imminent danger and can't run away, it flops to the ground and remains frozen with its head and neck pressed against the earth in front of it. Because the head and neck are pale, it appears to blend in with the soil which makes it look like the bird has buried its head in the sand.

This bird isn't quite the brainless coward that it's sometimes made out to be, though. It's fully capable of protecting itself on the open savanna. Ostriches have elongated necks and excellent vision so they can see forever and identify dangerous threats from a great distance. Powerful legs propel them to 40 mph and if confronted, a single forward kick can be fatal to even Africa's most lethal predators, such as the cheetah, lion, hyena or leopard.

Physiologus is an early Christian text that was written around 200 AD. It proposes that the ostrich incubates its eggs by staring at them. At that time it was thought that our vision was the result of special "seeing" rays emanating from a person's eyes. People believed that the heat generated by the intense gaze radiating from an ostrich's enormous eyeballs is what actually hatched its chicks.

6 comments:

  1. I hurt myself laughing at the staring theory. I guess they can have an intense gaze? But that it would incubate eggs with its stare is too funny.

    John at The Bathroom Monologues

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    1. The ancients were very observant of nature and ostriches do have the largest eyes of any land animal so putting two and two together, the animal with the largest eyes would therefore also have the most intense and powerful gaze. Makes perfect sense doesn't it.

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    1. I came across that story and had to put it in this post. I also thought it was pretty humorous.

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  3. I wouldn't want to meet one of these face to face! (Well, not if it was angry.)

    LOL at the staring to incubate eggs. That sounds like a great story in there somewhere. Maybe an alien who has to stare to hatch their eggs. What happens if they look away?

    http://rinellegrey.com/o-is-for-over-it

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    1. They are very intimidating when you see them in person, they are huge. It's a good idea to keep your distance. If you can work the special "seeing" rays into one of your novels that would be great!

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