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August 11, 2012

The remarkable head stability of the owl

Videre est credere.

From the YouTube caption:

The Vestibular System of the Owl (1962)

Authors: Money K.E., Correia M.J.

Abstract: Owls have a curious variability in the postrotatory head nystagmus following abrupt angular deceleration. Owls can exhibit a remarkable head stability during angular movement of the body about any axis passing through the skull. The vestibular apparatus in the owl is bigger than in man, and a prominent crista neglecta is present. The tectorial membrane, the cupula, and the otolithic membranes of the utricle, saccule, and lagena are all "attached" to surfaces in addition to the surfaces bearing hair cells; these attachments are very substantial in the utricular otolithic membrane and in the cupula.

[via Kottke and Paul Biba]

August 11, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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These are like the stabilized mounts in weapons systems, and for exactly the same reason - owls are the original stealth night fighter.

Posted by: Scott | Aug 12, 2012 11:06:25 AM

i'm going to get one of those things to use as a steady cam

Posted by: rob | Aug 11, 2012 4:32:43 PM

LOL! Head stability is necessary for flight, and even more so for predatory birds. I read somewhere that birds have more bones in their necks than giraffes. You can see this head stability in all birds.

Posted by: Diana | Aug 11, 2012 10:09:13 AM

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