Monday, December 20, 2010

Creature Feature: Roadrunner.

"*GASP* Roadrunners are real!" - Homer Simpson.

Ya rly!

If you have never heard the word "Roadrunner" before, you must have been living in a hole for the past century or so. Warner Bros. has done a good job popularizing this bird with a blue Looney Tunes character known only for saying "beep beep!" and outrunning a coyote.

Real roadrunners have a wider vocabulary.

Real roadrunners are birds native to the hotter areas of North and Central America. Like peacocks and seriamas, they are cursorial predators, but also opportunistic omnivores. Specifically, the Lesser Roadrunner eats mostly insects while the Greater Roadrunner ( Geococcyx californianus) has a more varied diet. Said varied diet includes rattlesnakes and tarantula hawk wasps, by the way.

The Geico gecko failed to sell THIS creature car insurance. (Kidding, that's an anole of some sort.)

Roadrunners are members of the cuckoo family. This grants them not only a blank check for lunacy, but also the unique honor of being the only cursorial hunters with zygodactyl feet. For those of you not in the know, that means that a roadrunner's foot has two toes facing forward, two facing back. They can run up to 20 mph (32 km/h), so they're doing something right.

Of course, most of us care more about the roadrunner as seen in popular culture. Besides being a popular cartoon character, the roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico, the mascot of a number of athletic teams down south, and even the logo for a line of energy foods.

At least, I'm pretty darn sure this is a roadrunner.

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