Cats are mysterious creatures, but one thing we know for certain is that they (almost) always land on their feet. More than a few Internet videos have tackled the reasons why they’re able to deftly stick those landings, but they usually feature domestic cats—ones quite unlike the wild caracal captured by the BBC.
The high-speed footage above was shot for the new series Life in the Air. While the cat righting reflex has been known to save urban felines from high-rise falls, it originates from the fact that kitties are normally tree-dwellers, making the occasional plummet something to be prepared for. As you can see in the slo-mo footage, the caracal doesn’t simply right itself real fast in midair, that’s not impressive enough. The cat’s flexible spine allows it to rotate its front and back ends in opposite directions at the same time, “effectively pushing against itself,” the narrator explains. It then pulls its front legs close to make the front end of its body spin faster, creating the spine twist that enables the caracal to get its legs where they belong before touching down.
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It’s an impressive feat, and seeing every stage of the motion in high-def makes you realize there’s serious grace in nature’s pratfall prevention.
Images via the BBC // YouTube.