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Pronking: The Happy Dance That Should Kill You (But Doesn’t)

Lambs do it, alpacas do it, even gazelles do it: pronking. Also known as stotting, that joyous all-four-hooves-in-the-air leap can be one of the happiest ways to signal a hoofin’ good time. Their spines are even built for it.

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But pronking’s for more than just fun and games. When danger strikes, hooved animals will do a yipes-like pronk high in the air.

Does this make sense? If you’re being chased by someone, it would seem to make more sense to put your energy into forward motion than just pogo up and down in the same spot while Mr. and Mrs. Sharpteeth come nipping at your heels. Still, pronkers get chased less often, and when they are chased, they’re captured less often than those who just turn tail and flat-out run.

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Here’s the thing: It takes a lot of energy to pronk. Get up and try it! It doesn’t take many boing boing boings to see that the best pronkers need to be in tip-top shape. Pronking is an example of honest signaling, which means good pronkers are saying, “You can try to catch me, but I’m in such good physical condition I’ll probably outrun you. See? I have all this energy that I can jump up and down here and don’t even need to run from you yet.”

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And the predators say, “Oh. Ok. Thanks for the head’s up. I won’t waste my time. I’ll eat Mr. Slowpoke over here.”And then they do. And the meanest pronkers pronk for joy.

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By |July 16th, 2014|artist in residence, Backbones|4 Comments

Elephants ATTACK!

Asian elephants kill, on average, nearly 400 people across India each year.1, 2

Migrating around Asia, they scarf down and stomp on people’s crops, smash their homes, and drink their liquor.

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In all, elephants snarfle down the crops of at least 500,000 families in India each year (each elephant eats about 440 pounds of vegetation per day).1

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The big meanies.

Except . . .

People kill elephants right on back. In addition to the more than 100 Asian elephant retaliatory killings each year, at least

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are electrocuted on fences,

 

 

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die from diseases like anthrax and trypanosomiasis they contract from human-owned cattle, and at least

 

 

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are killed by trains (over 100 total elephants have died from trains). 2

 

Nobody knows how many more elephants die from getting trapped in human-dug drainage ditches, poaching, direct habitat loss, and more, so let’s not count those.

So . . .

Taking the largest estimate of total Asian elephant population today3 and the CIA’s estimate of the total population of Bhutan4 and India5, let’s compare the damage.

Elephants are 12,422 times more likely to die at the hands of humans than humans are to die from elephant-related causes.

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And while humans have encroached on 80 percent of elephant-inhabited forests, elephants have damaged less than one millionth of one percent of Indian farmland. bHR_15

 

Maybe we’re the jerks.

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Or maybe it’s a complicated problem. One that we can help fix.

By |July 9th, 2014|Backbones|0 Comments

How Many Does It Take?

Here at Buzz Hoot Roar, we love how humans measure everything and hand out superlatives. Today, we see how many of the biggest, longest, or tallest animals in their class (or order or family!) it would take stacked end-to-end to reach the top of some of our favorite landmarks. (It’s probably pretty important to know how many of the largest known bacteria it would take to reach the top of the Eiffel Tower.)

How many of the tallest dinosaur versus the biggest bacteria does it take to reach the top of the Eiffel Tower?

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…and how many of the longest jellyfish versus the longest tapeworm does it take to stretch to the top of the Grand Canyon?

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…and how many of the biggest mammal versus the tallest bird does it take to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty?

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…and how many of the tallest marsupial and biggest ant does it take to reach the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

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…and how many of the tallest land mammal and longest snake does it take to stretch to the tip of the Great Sphinx?

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Meet our Contenders!

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By |July 2nd, 2014|artist in residence, Backbones, Bugs, No Backbones|4 Comments