a creature's ability to aim

[Republishing another old draft…]

One thing about the Egyptial Vulture is that it is one of the very few birds that can use a tool – it uses stones to break open eggs. Sometimes flying high with a pebble and dropping it to break the egg open!

The Egyptian Vulture has developed the ability to use an instrument and has become famed for its ability to open ostrich eggs using stones as missiles. Birds pick up stones in their bills and throw them forcefully towards the ground. Normally they miss, but this bird is nothing if not persistent.

~ vultures and condors

Wow that would require extraordinary aim to do something like that! I can’t think of any animal that has the ability of ‘aim’! Hmm one creature I recall which aims is ‘spitting cobra’… maybe for a distance of a few feet I think. Also, I vaguely remember somewhere they said it aims at the eyes, blinding the victim enough to go nearer and catch it – but according to this link (just check out the picture!) that’s not true…

Do spitting cobras really “spit” venom?

Technically, no, they spray it. A muscular contraction pushes venom from the bottom of the cobra’s fangs, while air expelled from the cobra’s lung blows or sprays the venom at its intended victim.

National Geographic news (check out the photograph!)

A speeding cheetah requires aim to aim its body at a prey, a hawk requires extraordinary aim to calculate its flight and pounce on a small mouse which is smaller than a spec from high up there, so also with aquatic birds which dive underwater to catch fish… but all these examples are of animals which are aiming their entire bodies.

But what about aim where something leaves the boundary of the animal’s body. The aim where the projected object is travelling beyond the boundary of the body, independent of the body… where even projectile motion might have to be considered. I would’ve guessed that only humans have such an ability… it seems this bird cannot do it as well, based on the above link posted by Gopal. Also it would be interesting to know if the bird becomes more accurate over time, whether old experienced take fewer attempts than younger ones.

In cricket matches, after the two teams have fought over me to decide that I belong to the other team, I used to surprise everybody once in a way by aiming at the wickets from far away. Even at home, I aim my rolled up socks into my shoe from around 8 feet away and it lands exactly inside. Then I exclaim to my mom did you see that??’ which of course she wouldn’t have. So I persuade her to reluctantly turn away from the TV for 1 precious minute while I demonstrate my extraordinary talent again And then it would have to happen the 2nd socks hits the wall, gets deflected, and lands in the dustbin. For me its usually been the case of ‘beginners luck’ but of course there are people who sharpen this skill enough to win medals in sharp shooting contests. Come to think of it, aim is quite an extraordinary thing 🙂

Wonder what the differences are between these two kinds of aims… (not that the lack of an answer is going to keep me awake at night 😉 )

2 Responses to “a creature's ability to aim”

  1. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    reading this post made me feel i was watching animal planet! the links and the pics are great! by the way, reading about AIM reminded me of so many things: kings, choor chandd, lagori, cricket, teacher hitting a student with a piece of chalk, boy hitting a stray dog with a stone, popping some kadlekai into the mouth, exhibition games(hitting some cans with a ball or throwing a ring into a ketchup bottle), aiming for a mango in a neighbour’s tree…and many more!

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