Common Indiana Bird Features One of Nature’s Most Ingenious Designs
Woodpeckers are fascinating creatures, but the most interesting thing about them is not their beautiful colors or strong beaks - it is their incredibly long tongue.
I never thought I would be writing an article about the inner workings of a woodpecker, but here I am nonetheless. I have to say this is one of the neatest pieces of nature knowledge I have ever learned. So, here we go, let's talk about woodpecker tongues. Simply put, they are really, really long.
How Long is a Woodpecker's Tongue?
On average, the length of a woodpecker's tongue can be up to one-third of the length of the bird's body. Think about that for a second, and put it into human terms. Imagine if your tongue stretched from your mouth all the way down into your stomach. Now that's a lot of tongue.
Why is a Woodpecker's Tongue So Long?
A woodpecker's tongue serves a couple of very important purposes, none of which have anything to do with impressing the opposite sex. It's used for finding food inside of trees - through the little holes they create with their beaks - and it also kind of acts like a seat belt in the bird's head. The illustration above shows how the long tongue wraps around the bird's brain - so I guess it's less of a seat belt and more of a brain belt.
It makes sense why a woodpecker would need this when you think about the damage inflicted on its beak and head each day. According to fieldmuseum.org, woodpeckers can "experience forces of 1,200 to 1,400 g’s - about 14 times more g-force than what it takes for a human to get a concussion."
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Gallery Credit: ASHLEY SOLLARS
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Gallery Credit: Ryan O'Bryan