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What Birds Know About Fractal Geometry 74

sciencehabit writes "In a new study, researchers find that a single number that describes the complexity of feather patterns on bird chests, a parameter called the fractal dimension, is linked to whether a bird has a strong immune system or is malnourished. When scientists restricted the food of red-legged partridges, the patterns on their chests had a lower fractal dimension than those sported by their well-fed colleagues. The food-restricted birds, on average, weighed 13% less than their well-fed colleagues and had weaker immune systems, which makes fractal dimension an easily recognizable sign of a potential mate's health and vitality, the researchers contend."
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What Birds Know About Fractal Geometry

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  • Now seriously! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by docilespelunker ( 1883198 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @04:56AM (#42678487)
    The notion of birds calculating the fractal dimension of a prospective mate's feathers seems about as farfetched as baseball fielders calculating the exact mathematical damped parabolic path of the ball to work out where to put their hand. It also indicates that if true, birds are much nerdier than my physicist friends and should in theory have less chance of getting a date. As such, this theory is debunked by birds not being extinct through lack of mating! I do buy the notion that birds could see the effect without doing the maths though.
  • by webmistressrachel ( 903577 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:59AM (#42678653) Journal

    What? The world has come to this? Instead of how intelligent, strong, or attractive we are, the primary factor is socio-economic status?

    Wow, I bet that realisation causes more than a few suicides.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen