Sunday, February 12, 2012

'The Birds' died from poisoned plankton : Alfred Hitchcock's thriller source revealed

Photograph: Thomas P Peschak/Save our Seas

From HuffingtonPost

The mystery behind the avian outbreak that inspired one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films may have finally been solved.

Hitchcock's 1963 film "The Birds" was inspired by both a Daphne du Maurier short story and a mass outbreak of avian insanity that took place in California's Monterey Bay two years earlier.

According to a team of researchers, that outbreak was caused by the least suspenseful thing of all time: poisoned plankton.

Sibel Bargu of Louisiana State University led a team of researchers that determined that 79 percent of the plankton that the squid and other creatures that the birds ate contained toxin-making algae, which was passed along through prey to predator.

In the film, the birds attack people, while in real life they suffered seizures and confusion and then died, plummeting down on houses and cars when they dropped from the sky.

As USA Today points out, the poison may have been caused by leaky septic tanks in the rapidly expanding housing market in the area, giving the story a moral lesson after all.

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