As summer Olympics season approaches, we should remember that we humans are not the only ones with some amazing physical abilities.

Giraffe-alympics:  Humans may dive from 10 meters or more, but the distance between heart and head does not change significantly.  Giraffes, by contrast, can lower their heads 18 feet to drink water without their brains exploding.  Then they can take off galloping if a predator approaches, all the while maintaining constant fluid pressure.  PhysOrg wrote in a short article, “Giraffes are living proof that cells’ pressure matters.”  It’s about researchers in France who came up with a better model to explain fluid pressure in tissues when cells divide.  The new model explains how a tissue maintains a steady state between cell division and cell death.  “If that were the case, very tall organisms such as giraffes could not exist, because the cells in their lower body would die under pressure.”

Lizard diving competition:  Like cats, lizards land on their feet after a fall; but unlike cats, they do it with a twist of the tail.  “Lizards in their natural environment encounter various situations where they could fall, PhysOrg explained.  “For instance, they could fall while fighting over territory, seeking food, or even mating. To avoid injuries, they must have a way to turn themselves during a fall to land safely on their feet. ” PhysOrg reported how researchers from UCBerkeley took high-speed video of green anoles and flat-tailed house geckos to see how they do it.  They were impressed enough to design a Righting Bot robot that imitates the tail-flick trick.  They believe their findings “could also help engineers to design air– or land-based robots with better stability.”

Ageless diving seabirds:  One might think that animals with the most strenuous lives would age sooner, but guillemots (a species of diving bird) maintain fitness until their last dive, without showing signs of aging.  “The guillemots — which look similar to penguins but can fly — have the highest flight costs of any bird and expend substantial energy for diving,” Science Daily explained.  “Their high metabolisms and frequent dives should produce oxidative stress, causing the birds to deteriorate as they age. But, the researchers discovered that the birds stay fit and active as they grow older, maintaining their flying, diving, and foraging abilities.”  Kyle Elliott (U of Manitoba) remarked, “Not only do these birds live very long, but they maintain their energetic lifestyle in a very extreme environment into old age.”  Maybe they could help humans in the Aging Competition in which everyone is participating….

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