Can an owl rotate its’ head 360 degrees?

26

I came across this video the other day, and the first few seconds seems to show an owl rotating its’ head through 360 degrees….

Is that really the case? Can you explain it?

26 comments on “Can an owl rotate its’ head 360 degrees?

  1. Turingfan says:

    Quick web search suggests owls can rotate 270 degrees in either direction starting from the front. So starting from the back if they go in the right direction, they can indeed rotate 360 degrees. http://www.owlpages.com/articles.php?section=Owl+Physiology&title=Skeleton

  2. Turingfan says:

    In this video its head is initially 90 degrees to the left but obviously it was actually 270 to the right. So it rotated it back to front and centre, then another 90 degrees.

  3. Motion looks a bit mechanical to me

  4. One Eyed Jack says:

    Yes, owls have this level of head rotation. His body is obviously facing away from us (generally) and the video begins with he head turned backwards.

    Interesting to watch but not unusual for an owl.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Richard…. lose the apostrophes, please. I’m trying to eat.

  6. Ruth Bell says:

    This is simple! Owls cannot rotate their heads 360 degrees. However they can rotate their heads 180 degrees (so they would be looking directly behind themselves) This owl is clearly facing away from the camera, so that what we see at the beginning of the clip is the owl with his head already turned as far in one direction as possible. So when he turns his head as far in the other direction as he can, he basically turns it 360 degrees.

    • Jacklyn says:

      Actually, you are wrong they can turn their heads around a full 270 degrees. But you are right about basically turning it around 360.

  7. Obviously not. If it could, it would not need to “unwind” at the end of the tape. The only life form capable of 360° rotation is a small bacterium whose’ name I ha’ve forgotten. It eat’s apostrophe’s incorrectly placed.

    • Turingfan says:

      No, it’s not obviously impossible. I can stretch my arm out and rotate it in my shoulder 360 degrees, or 720 degrees or 1080, or in fact indefinitely. So joints can do that, so it’s not at all obvious an owl can’t – actually it can’t, but still.

    • That isn’t actually what you are doing. You are moving your arm in a circular motion, but your forearm at the shoulder is revolving while you are doing it. A true arm-motion of 360° would require you to keep your palm flat or gripped around an object and kept parallel to the floor at all times. Try it with an assistant to force your arm to stay straight through the whole motion. Can’t be done.

  8. Ian says:

    What an intriguing video, Richard and quite startling at first. Looking closely, the owl doesn’t return its head to exactly the same position, so it’s not a complete 360 degree turn, and they do have a remarkable turning ability anyway; but, yes, definitely, at first glance it’s quite surprising :)

  9. Answer to the Friday Puzzle says:

    This is a badly worded question.
    If RW is asking the probability of the second coining coming up heads the answer is 50 percent.
    If he is asking the chances of the second coin being heads having shown us the first one is a head (when he shows us the first one if either comes up heads) the answer is 1/3.
    I think we had a very similar question a few weeks ago in the context of the sexes of two children.

  10. Eddie says:

    Well done on having the idea to post your comment here… but by posting the answer you’ve spoiled it for people who also had the idea to come here to comment. Are you a complete sociopath?

    • Dave says:

      Well, at least it’s not a spoiler this time, since he’s clearly a moron and doesn’t even understand the question.

    • Lazy T says:

      I miss the facility to be a moron on a friday too.

    • One Eyed Jack says:

      Actually, Dave, it does matter how you reveal the coins and whether they were tossed in series or parallel. The question doesn’t make this clear and it does change the probability. I won’t comment on whether “Answer” is correct, but it does matter.

    • Answer To The Friday Puzzle says:

      Hi Dave,
      So I am a moron who doesn’t even understand the question – but I have got the right answer. Does that make me some kind of idiot savant?
      If you are truly interested in morons you should look at some of the 50 per cent fans who have posted today underneath Richard’s official answer.
      Toodle pip
      See you on Friday

  11. Anon says:

    Dave, Eddie,
    Make your mind up chaps.
    Is ATTFP a “complete sociopath” for posting the correct answer or a “moron” who doesn’t even understand the question?

  12. Ronda says:

    I’m surprised everyone doesn’t know this about owls. They *seem* to turn 360, but they actually spin quickly at some point in the turn–faster than our eyes can follow. Here is a video of one doing the seemingly complete spin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-jtQZwPPGQ

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  14. Krecia says:

    Owls have 14 neck vertebrae, humans only have 7 neck vertebrae. they can rotate their head only up to 270 degrees.

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