Does an ostrich hide its head in the sand? The story of an ancient delusion
Categories: AnimalsBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/article/does-an-ostrich-hide-its-head-in-the-sand-the-story-of-an-ancient-delusion.html
Since childhood, we have all been convinced that in case of danger, the ostrich hides its head in the sand. This situation is played out in cartoons, book illustrations and funny cartoons. This action is explained by the fact that the bird, hiding the most important part of the body, believes that it is safe. But is this really the case?
This ostrich method of disguise has nothing to do with reality. And the ancient Roman scientist Pliny the Elder (22-79 A.D.) convinced the whole world of the existence of such habits of feathered giants. It was in his monumental work "Natural History" that the description of ostriches claiming to be scientific is found for the first time, and the story with its head in the sand originates from there.
In the time of Pliny, and for many centuries after, very few people in Europe could boast of having seen a live ostrich. There was no reason not to believe the authoritative polymath writer, and, as we can see, the delusion, which is almost two thousand years old, has survived to this day.
But today it is not difficult to see an ostrich - many people have seen these large birds in nature, in zoos and on ostrich farms located around the world. If you ask about the behavior of an ostrich at the moment of fright of the workers of such farms, they will surely answer that they have never seen an ostrich hide its head. Although they are not as well known as Pliny, but they are definitely not familiar with birds of this species from the tales of travelers.
But where did this persistent stereotype come from? Most likely, an armchair Roman scientist became a victim of someone else's delusion. A person watching ostriches could witness how a bird looks for small stones that it needs for normal digestion. Or maybe he saw the bird put its head on the ground to rest its neck. This is quite possible if she was fleeing from a predator or a person before.
To make sure that the ostrich's habit of hiding its head is fiction, you just need to turn to logic. Firstly, ostriches are birds with a well-developed respiratory system. Hiding your head after a chase when you need as much oxygen as possible would be very strange.
It is also unclear how an ostrich could determine that the danger has passed and it is possible to extract the head – these birds are guided by the senses located on the head. And most importantly, could ostriches survive in the evolutionary struggle for survival if they solved their security issues so stupidly? Most likely, they would not have been in nature for a long time.