Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Is it true that a cat will always manage to land on its feet?
Is it true that a cat will always manage to land on its feet? In 1894, Etienne-Jules Marey, a French physiologist, held a cat upside down by its legs and dropped it. The film he took, which captured sixty images per second, showed how a cat lands on its feet. As the cat falls, there is an automatic twisting action. The cat maneuvers its head, back, legs and tail to lessen the impact of its fall. Studies show that up to ninety percent of cats that fall from skyscrapers survive, albeit with broken bones. Obviously, if dropped from too high a height, a cat, like any mortal species, will be dead on impact. According to legend, Baldwin III, Count of Ypres, threw some cats from a tower in AD 962. It became something of a tradition to throw cats from a seventy metre tower until 1817. Today, the tradition continues, though toy cats are used. But in 1817, when the last real cats were thrown, the keeper of the town noted that, “in spite of the height of the fall, the animal ran off quickly so that it might never be caught again in a similar ceremony.”