A Lifetime of Hammering Trees Might Affect Woodpecker Brains After All
Each time a woodpecker drums on a tree to find food, build a nest, or attract a mate, it gets hit with up to 1,400 g’s of force -14 times the amount that would trigger a concussion in humans.
Thankfully, the bird has a few ways to dampen the blow: built-in shock absorbers, an enlarged brain case, and a specialized beak and skull that redirect pressure away from its head. As if that wasn’t enough, it can also wrap its tongue around the back of its head to serve as a cushion (when the organ isn’t being deployed to trap dinner, of course).
February 18, 2018