(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at Mississippi State University has found that the beaks of woodpeckers are constructed in such a way as to help dissipate energy. In their paper published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the team describes their work in analyzing the beaks of several red-bellied woodpeckers and how they found that it has three layers that all help to absorb shocks as the bird pecks away at trees looking for insects inside.
Most everyone knows that woodpeckers bang away at trees (or sometimes other structures) with their beaks to create holes that allow them access to insects hidden inside. Prior research has shown that woodpeckers have a variety of features throughout their heads that help absorb shock, preventing the birds from suffering brain or other damage as they hunt for their prey. In this new effort, the researchers sought to learn if there was anything special about their beaks that might also help soften the internal blow as the birds hammer away at a tree, between one and three hundred times a minute.