The Mary River Turtle not only has specialized glands that allow it to breathe underwater for 72 hours, it also sports a punk rock algae-infused mohawk.
Named one of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles, the turtle lives in Mary River streams in southeastern Queensland, Australia. It uses the algae growing on its shell to camouflage itself from predators.
“We need to be a little bit more tortoise-y and a little less hare-ish,” Malcolm Gladwell once said. While his message encourages people to slow down in this hyperspeed era, perhaps we need a little more punk in our lives too.
“When you’re hit on the football field, parts of your brain may fizz like a just-opened can of soda.”
The brain released humans from the prison of biology. So why do we do anything that damages our ability to think? Because of sports like football that entertain.
However, a new technology designed to mimic a woodpecker’s shock-absorbing beak may prevent football players from brain injury.
“It likely clinched its jugular vein with its long omohyoid muscle, protecting against brain slosh by filling its brain with blood.”
Scientists first theorized that increasing blood to the brain would help safeguard the head against collisions. Existing data revealed that playing football at higher altitudes generated fewer concussions. However, scientist Joseph Fisher thought he could still protect players’ brains without suffocating their oxygen. He went back to study the physiology of the woodpecker’s distinctive “omohyoid solution” for battling head trauma.
“forget CO2, Fisher thought. All you needed was to press lightly on the neck. Fisher bought a pair of headphones at an electronics store, bent the metal band a little, and placed them around his neck with the pads against his jugular veins.”
Naturally, scientists tested the hypothesis on rats by putting a neckband on them and forcing collisions. The neck-protected rats saw an “83 percent reduction in brain damage compared to rats that didn’t.” Scientists got approval to test a neck collar on high school football players.
“The kids who had worn the collar, on the other hand, saw significantly fewer changes. Their brains hadn’t suffered the same way. The findings were also replicated in hockey players. What worked for woodpeckers seemed to work for humans. A little extra blood in the skull swaddled the brain enough to reduce damage.”
In other words, squeezing the jugular sends just enough blood to the head to prevent brain injury and in the long-run, dementia caused by CTE. Astonishing, right? It makes you think why the NFL does not have an R&D department. The worst-case scenario? Figure out how to play American football using bubbles.