Thursday, 18 May 2017

One Legged Ducks DON'T Swim in Circles


Today, Wales mourns the passing of Rhodri Morgan, who was the first First Minister of Wales (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodri_Morgan). Rhodri was famed for some of his more colourful descriptions, including the rhetorical "Do one-legged ducks swim in a circle?" in a Jeremy Paxman interview (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/do-one-legged-ducks-swim-13052356).

As author Brenda-Gillian enthused in a discussion yesterday, the English language is a delightful thing and the saying 'Do one legged ducks swim in a circle' is a colloquialism that has long been used as a positive response to a question with an obvious answer.

As a biologist, I was intrigued. Was this actually true? Fortunately not! The best evidence I can find of one legged ducks swimming with perfect ease in the directions they want can be seen in just three videos of no doubt many more - see below:

The last link shows a model that demonstrates how it is possible for a duck to swim with one leg.

Thinking about it, this is of course obvious. A one legged duck that can't swim in water is, well, a sitting duck, to coin another phrase, and liable to swift natural selection. The human Paralympics show that we too can adapt and perform very well despite the absence of a limb.

So, should we look for more accurate alternatives? Is the pope catholic?!?

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