With rumors circulating about nine lives and the ability to always land on their feet, cats have gained an air of legend surrounding their physical capabilities.
But in some random cases, the folklore isn’t far from the truth.
A new video from BBC explores in stunning slow motion just how the African caracal can land on all four feet after an upside-down fall, manipulating its body to right itself before hitting the ground.
The video is a part of the BBC One educational program called Life in the Air, which reveals just how animals around the world can seemingly defy gravity.
In the slow motion footage, the caracal in the video clip can be seen falling through the air from a few feet above the ground.
Its body begins in a forward-facing position, but it then quickly begins to arch itself, twisting and bending near the head and lower back.
While it may not look all that comfortable, this movement is just a normal part of the cat’s internal design.
The caracal’s flexible spine ‘allows him to rotate their front and back ends in different directions at the same time,’ the video explains.
Why Cats Usually Land on Their Feet – Explained:
The driving force behind this phenomenon is known as the ‘aerial righting reflex,’ which helps all cats to regain orientation.
Combined with their flexible spines, cats will determine their orientation in relationship to the ground, and twist their body to right themselves.
But, it isn’t only cats that have this skill.
Researchers have linked this reflex to many other types of animals, from primates to guinea pigs, rabbits, and rats, and even some lizards.
This particular reflex helps animals to reorient their bodies after falling, but it’s thought to play a role in jumping and leaping as well.