This video of turkeys circling a dead cat went viral yesterday...
... and here's the explainer
, from The Verge's
Alessandra Potenza and Rachel Becker. They're a) warily inspecting a potential predator they don't realize is dead while b) getting stuck in a natural follow-the-leader pattern.
“predator inspection,” says Alan Krakauer, a biologist at the University of California, Davis, who studies the behavioral ecology of birds, in an email to The Verge. Sometimes, animals lower down in the food chain approach predators — a behavior that can be seen as risky, but can actually help the prey. Making the predator aware that the prey know it’s there can sometimes scare the predator away. ... What could be happening is that the turkeys are stuck in some kind of never-ending circle, with each bird following the tail in front of it. “It’s not unusual for them to get into those dances where they chase each other around,” Scott Gardner, a turkey expert with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, tells The Verge.
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The above clip from a U.K. television show compiles dashcam footage of turkeys attacking police officers. It continues below:
The following video of a terrified reporter being pursued by a turkey is even better.
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A New Jersey mail carrier was trapped inside his truck when aggressive wild turkeys surrounded it. His postmaster called 911.
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When officers arrived, they scared the turkeys away by walking toward them.
The mail carrier was not injured during the incident, but mail service was briefly held up to three homes on the street.
Word in the neighborhood is that the mail carrier was a substitute -- and wasn't familiar with the birds.
Because there are plenty of turkey testicles for everyone who is inclined to eat turkey testicles.
UC Berkeley researchers took inspiration from a turkey's color-changing wattle to design a biosensor that detects toxins or pathogens. Turkey wattles change between blue and red as the blood vessels between the collagen fibers swell or contract. The researchers used benign viruses to self-assemble into collagen fiber-like structures that change colors as they expand and contract when exposed to chemicals like hexane, methanol, and even TNT.
“In our lab, we study how light is generated and changes in nature, and then we use what we learn to engineer novel devices,” said professor Seung-Wuk Lee who co-led the research.
"Turkeys inspire smartphone-capable early warning system for toxins" Read the rest
Turkeys do fly. But they're built more for running, with powerful legs. Those legs, though, come in handy when the birds do take to the air. Unlike other large birds that need a relatively long runway to launch themselves skyward, turkeys can basically just jump up and take off — sort of the helicopter to other birds' 747. Read the rest