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The secret to protecting the human brain- woodpeckers?


For a Free Scotland
BBC News - How woodpeckers avoid head injury

Slow-motion footage, X-ray images and computer simulations have shed light on how woodpeckers avoid injuries to their brains as they peck.

Their heads move some 6m/s (20ft/s), at each peck enduring a deceleration more than 1,000 times that of gravity.

But researchers reporting in Plos One say that unequal upper and lower beak lengths and spongy, plate-like bone structure protect the birds' brains.

The findings could help design more effective head protection for humans.

For years, scientists have examined the anatomy of woodpeckers' skulls to find out how they pull off their powerful pecking without causing themselves harm.

The birds have little "sub-dural space" between their brains and their skulls, so the brain does not have room to bump around as it does in humans. Also, their brains are longer top-to-bottom than front-to-back, meaning the force against the skull is spread over a larger brain area.
Obviously we have adapted a lot of technology from the animal kingdom- designing better helmets based on the cranial structure of woodpeckers would just be another. Sometimes it's a lot more productive than just speculating with a computer model!


Registered Member
Thats certainly an interesting article but I dont see how it can apply to humans. Helmets cant change the way brains are shaped or how they fit into our skulls. But to be honest Iv got a bit of a buzz going so maybe Im just not being the most intelligent :p

We definetly have borrowed a ton of mother natures design to influence the technology that we use. There is a species of spider that makes its web into a sort of air-tight cone and then uses it to go underwater, and humans have developed a diving bell (way, way back in the day). But I just dont see how the woodpeckers head structure can be used to benefit us.