Thursday, May 12, 2011

Major Ostrich Update

Light fare for exam week (a.k.a. more fun than grading my exams). A commenter (and those of you who dip into the comment stream will know I spend far too much time reading and responding to them--I've probably typed twice as many words in comments as posts) goaded me into undertaking some first class google research on struthio camelus. I was deeply disappointed to hear that they do not in fact bury their heads in the sand.  Rather, at least according to the San Diego zoo (from which I've obviously filched the photo below), when nesting and threatened they will stretch their heads out along the ground to lower their profile.

The source of this myth is, I'm happy to say, classical, as is true of most good myths. Pliny the Elder (the guy who died after sailing towards the erupting Mt. Vesuvius) is apparently the culprit.  Or at least so says Wikipedia.  And if you can't trust Wikipedia, who can you trust? Or whom?

[Don't tell anyone I mentioned Pliny the Elder. I think I'm supposed to be on furlough today, and that might count as working. Sorry.]

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