Owls are some of the most interesting birds that exist on our planet. There are over 200 species of them and that’s not even including the cartoon versions which seem to often be graduating from school or licking to the center of a tootsie pop.
What many people evidently did not know, is that owls have some really long legs hiding under all those feathers. Pictures of owls showing off their lengthy limbs have been going viral online.
Owls and the very long legs they seem to have.
Female owls will have longer legs than male owls, however. This is due to them just being generally larger than their male counterparts. One theory as to why male owls evolved to be smaller than females is that this makes them better foragers and able to find more food. Female owls must stay in the nest with their eggs, so it pays to have a good male owl out picking up food.
Why do owls have such long legs?
Owls might look kind of funny with long legs (especially when ZZ Top’s song ‘Legs’ is playing in the background) but they actually are important for an owl’s hunting.
An owl’s diet consists primarily of small mammals, other birds, and insects. Some owl’s hunt fish as well. Their larger prey requires the owl to use the strength of their sharp talons to kill. The owl’s long legs are pivotal to helping the owl hunt with its talons especially for the mammals and fish they catch.
What else don’t we know about owls?
So what else are owls hiding, huh? What else is going on underneath those feathers? Well, it turns out their hidden long legs are not the only interesting physical feature owls have.
Owls can rotate their necks almost entirely around. This allows them to really stare back at people who are talking in a movie theater.
Owls have 14 vertebrae in their necks. Humans have a measly 7 vertebrae in theirs. The added vertebrae allow owls to turn their heads at a 270-degree angle.
Owls have forward-facing eyes, which is unusual for birds of prey.
Typically, such birds will have eyes on either side of their head as opposed to facing directly forward.
What owls mean in different cultures.
Owls have long been symbols in mythology and folk tales. It’s not clear how many of the people sharing ancient owl stories are aware of how funny their legs look with their feathers pulled back, however.
How this knowledge would have impacted the perception of owls throughout history is unknown.
Owls have often been associated with wisdom.
This idea is thought to go back to Ancient Greece as the God Athena often used the owl as a symbol.
In Hindu mythology, the owl is a symbol of wealth, good luck, wisdom, and prosperity.
The Aztecs and the Mayans viewed owls as a symbol of death. Similarly, the Ojibwe tribes also consider the owl as a symbol of death. Pawnee tribes, however, viewed owls as protectors.
Owls have been on Earth a very, very long time.
Owl fossils have been found that are estimated to be between 70-80 million years old. This means that owls have existed on Earth since there were dinosaurs roaming around the planet.
Nowadays, owls live on every continent except Antarctica. Their longevity and ability to survive and thrive is truly impressive, almost as impressive as their super long legs!
This is a friendly reminder that owls have incredibly long (hidden) legs. pic.twitter.com/sBpkZgJyG2
— Lauryn Ipsum (@LaurynIpsum) September 15, 2019
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