Big Foot. UFOs. The Men in Black. Area 51. 9/11 was an inside job. The moon landing was staged. The earth is flat.
Those are just some of the wild conspiracy theories that have found themselves in the zeitgeist in recent memory.
And yet, somehow, none of those may be the most surreal of these “mainstream” conspiracy theories.
No, that ignominious honor is reserved for the conspiracy that birds — God’s beautiful aviary creatures — are, in fact, not real.
Perhaps best explained by The New York Times, the outlet describes this “Gen Z conspiracy theory” as such: The “birds aren’t real” meme/conspiracy theory “posits that birds don’t exist and are really drone replicas installed by the U.S. government to spy on Americans.”
It began as a parody social media movement, which began in 2017, and has quickly taken on a life of its own, despite the bird-brained nature (pun very much intended) of the conspiracy.
Young Peter McIndoe is credited with the parody, which he created “on a whim,” and kept up the facade of being a genuine, true believer that birds aren’t real until the NYT article on it.
So it was all a joke.
Until now, when it appears that birds can be drones — provided they’re dead first.
As Reuters reported, scientists at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro have begun experimenting with “taxidermy bird drones” and they’re as nightmarish as they sound.
Dr. Mostafa Hassanalian, who is leading the project at the school, told Reuters that they were resorting to repurposing dead birds preserved via taxidermy to better study the concept of flight.
“If we learn how these birds manage … energy between themselves, we can apply (that) into the future aviation industry to save more energy and save more fuel,” Hassanalian told the outlet.
Currently, the taxidermy drones can only take flight for about 20 minutes, so the next step of this project is to extend that flight duration.
Video of the taxidermy drones was shared by Reuters as well, and it’s certainly fair to describe the sight of dead birds taking flight again as “jarring”:
Scientists in New Mexico are giving dead birds a new life with an unconventional approach to wildlife research — converting them into drones pic.twitter.com/msHbFYF2W7
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 14, 2023
Clearly in on the joke, the Reuters video even began with the caption: “Are you sure the birds you see in the sky aren’t drones?”
The story went viral, and the “birds aren’t real” meme’s internet life cycle appeared to begin anew:
and they called us conspiracy theorists
— Birds Aren’t Real (@birdsarentreal) April 15, 2023
So the next time someone tells you that birds aren’t real, it’s safe to assume that they’re either a lunatic fringe conspiracy theorist — or a scientist in New Mexico.
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