Head in the sand

By Pete Bauer

Clarion

How many of us have heard the metaphor about having our head in the sand? Probably most of us, but humans, much like ostriches, would die of asphyxiation if we did that.

It is a common belief that an ostrich will bury its head in the sand to avoid predators. Operating under the premise, "if I cannot see it, it must not exist."

This myth has been around since Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) documented it in his 37-book attempt to catalog the entirety of Roman knowledge.

However, in a study of 200,000 ostriches over 80 years, no one reported a single case where one buried its head.

Ostriches weigh up to 350 pounds and average height between seven and nine feet. Given their size, it is understandable that seeing an ostrich feeding off of plants that its small head may appear buried.

Although ostriches are birds, they cannot fly, given their extreme bodyweight. They can, however, run upwards of 45-mph.

They flap their wings to maintain balance.

The next time someone tells you to stop burying your head in the sand (implying that you're avoiding a problem), let them know ostriches are not dumb enough to do such a thing and unless you are suicidal, neither would you.