Caracals are expert bird hunters, capable of catching them in mid-flight with incredible leaps.
They are built for a vertical launch. But what goes up must come down – and come down in the right way.
The exact mechanism by which cats always land on their feet kept scientists arguing for over a century. A cat needs to turn around, but to do that it has to push against something else – but there’s nothing there.
Super slow motion video, however, reveals exactly how these flexible cats are able to twist their spine in opposite directions. By spinning in two different directions at the same time, the caracal is effectively pushing against itself.
Not only this, it pulls its front legs close which makes the front half of its body spin faster like a pirouetting ice skater. This creates a twist in its spine, allowing it to swing the back legs round and prepare for landing.
This clip is taken from the new series Life in the Air, which begins in the UK on Sunday 3rd April at 17:00 BST on BBC One.
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