If you have been to a conference where I am at, either speaking or asking questions, you have undoubtedly heard me mention woodpeckers.  Usually after I ask the question or bring up the topic there is laughing.  I don’t know if the laughing is because of the concept or the laughing is because they think I am an idiot (the later would not be completely out of line).

Well, I guess I may have been ahead of the curve; I cannot claim full credit on the thought as Jonathan Lifshitz, PhD and I had a discussion about a year ago about the woodpecker.  A Chinese scientist has looked more in-depth into this animal as it relates to concussions, via theStar.com;

“These findings would be applied to human protective devices such as sports helmet designs,” says Yubo Fan, a bioengineer at Beijing’s Beihang University and the senior study author.

Fan says woodpecker skulls have evolved with several varied layers of protection that allow them to absorb the fierce — up to 1,000 G — forces of their occupation.

And, he says, some of these anatomical traits may well be translatable into helmet features.

The study was released Wednesday by the online journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) One.

Of interest was what anatomical features the small bird had that may be preventing brain injury.  There were three identifiable features that may be worth looking into: Continue reading