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319171.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:17 am Reply with quote

I don't think we've done this, have we?


THE MYTH: Ostriches, when frightened, bury their heads in the sand. By analogy, anyone who refuses to face an uncomfortable truth is said to be behaving like an ostrich.

THE "TRUTH": Good news for the theory of natural selection: the ostrich does not react to danger by hiding its bonce. Ostriches have powerful legs, with pickaxe-type claws. An ostrich kick is sufficient to open a man’s stomach; such human fatalities are not unknown. They are the world’s largest birds, and can react aggressively if attacked - alternatively they can flee, as, though flightless, they are capable of achieving considerable land speeds. When feeding, an ostrich will often lay its head flat on the ground; from a distance, the long, thin neck might seem to end at sand-level. This, perhaps, is the origin of the misunderstanding; though, if so, we have to assume that the founders of this popular myth never actually got very close to any ostriches. Which is understandable: ostriches are big and fierce.


DISCLAIMER: Or are we just running away from the facts here? If you want to stand up for the subterranean noggin position, don’t be shy - write in.

319175.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:26 am Reply with quote

Series 1, Episode 7:

Stephen: What buries its head in the sand?

Jo: [presses buzzer, which dings]

Stephen: Jo.

Jo: I have to finish my triumph off tonight and say "the ostrich".

Stephen: Hey!

[Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the word "OSTRICH".]

Stephen: [holds up card which reads "OSTRICH"]
Well, my goodness me. How wrong you are. No. Ostriches have never been known to bury their head in the sand at all, ever. They would suffocate if they did so.

Jo: Thank you. Yeah.

Stephen: Invented by an old friend of this programme, Pliny the Elder.

Jimmy: How do these myths get started?

Stephen: They do have a way of scanning the horizon by lowering their necks and--[lowers his head to his hands and scans from side to side]--and lowering their heads to the ground level and looking around, er, for . . . for enemies.

319180.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:33 am Reply with quote

Ah, the fabled Series One ... Thanks, Bob!

319225.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:37 am Reply with quote

Oddly enough I do have a picture of a rhea, the South American ostrich, with its head in a hole in the ground. I took it myself. But it probably wasn't hiding so much as looking for its keys or something.


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