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The roadrunner (also known as "chaparral cock") is a long-legged bird found in parts of the southwestern United States and Mexico. In Southwest Indian legends, roadrunners are usually notable for their speed (despite their small size, roadrunners can run faster than humans,) bravery (roadrunners kill and eat rattlesnakes,) and endurance. The Hopi and other Pueblo tribes believed that roadrunners were medicine birds and could protect against evil spirits. Their unusual X-shaped footprints are used as sacred symbols to ward off evil in many Pueblo tribes-- partially because they invoke the protective power of the roadrunners themselves, and partially because the X shape of the tracks conceals which direction the bird is headed (thus throwing malignant spirits off-track.) Stylized roadrunner tracks have been found in the rock art of ancestral Southwestern tribes like the Anasazi and Mogollon cultures, as well. Roadrunner feathers were traditionally used to decorate Pueblo cradleboards as spiritual protection for the baby. In Mexican Indian tribes, it was considered good luck to see a roadrunner. In some Mexican tribes, the bird was considered sacred and never killed, but most Mexican Indians used the meat of the roadrunner as a folk remedy to cure illness or to boost stamina and strength.
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