Why woodpeckers don't have a concussion

Why woodpeckers don't have a concussion
Why woodpeckers don't have a concussion

Pounding dense wood with a beak is an activity after which any unprepared creature will have a very severe headache. However, woodpeckers manage to do up to 20 beats per second without experiencing any discomfort. How so?

Woodpeckers can be found in forests around the world, with the exception of Australia. These birds have an unusual ability to use their beaks as real perforators, making deep holes even in old, stone-hard wood in search of insects. Even more impressive, the woodpecker's head remains intact.

During gouging, the speed of approach of the beak to the tree is 7 meters per second, and upon collision, it experiences overloads that are about 1200 times greater than the force of gravity on Earth. In order to dissipate the energy from such blows, nature has provided woodpeckers with a unique skull structure. Its bones have different chemical composition and density. For example, some bones accumulate more minerals than the bones of other birds, which makes the bones tough and hard.

Woodpeckers' skull bones are very thin and contain very little fluid that separates the brain from the hard surface. This helps to limit fluctuations in the brain during head movements and, as a result, reduces the risk of head injury. Moreover, if animals usually have a hard stratum corneum on the outside of the bone, and a soft and spongy layer inside, then in woodpeckers the opposite is true: a flexible shell and a hard, dense core. As a result, the bones literally absorb the energy from the blows, preventing it from spreading further.

Finally, the third feature of woodpeckers is powerful claws and strong tail feathers. They help the bird to properly fix on the tree trunk and deliver clear pricks with its beak in the same place. The researchers hope that the planned studies of the nervous system and soft tissues of these amazing birds, planned for the near future, will not only allow us to learn more about wildlife, but also suggest how to heal human head injuries and develop new means of protecting it.

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