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Re: ora speeds

Jura wrote:
> While I usually avoid citing nature documentaries when I can, if one watches 
> the Komodo dragon special of The Crocodile Hunter, one can watch an ora 
> trotting along at 8 km/hr (according to Steve Irwin). 

How can you not believe any scientific statement that begins with the
word "crikey!"

>The animal appears very nonchalant in its movements (none of that muffled 
>machinegun stuff), and while Steve was winded by the time it stopped, the ora 
>showed no signs of aerobic distress.

Many (if not most) wild animals will deliberately try to hide any
distress they may be feeling. Since oras are notorious cannibals, an
animal in obvious distress might just end up on the menu. 

Many people argue that branding doesn't really hurt cows much, since
they go back to grazing with no apparent lingering effects straight
afterward. However, herding herbivores especially will suppress any
signs of pain or sickness to prevent predators from picking them out of
the crowd. 

Just because an animal doesn't show signs of distress that are obvious
to humans (like muttering "crickey" repeatedly under their breath)
doesn't mean the animal feels no discomfort. This is one of the major
stumbling blocks in interpreting animal behaviour (especially degrees of
self awareness). It can be tempting to apply a human context to animal
facial expressions or bodily postures, but without a Vulcan mind-meld
you can never know exactly what motivates an animal to do what it does.

Victorian naturalists used to think that hyaenas felt guilty for killing
they prey, and that this was proof that they had a sense of christian
morality. However their sheepish, furtive glances straight after a kill
are more likely to check for lions or wild dogs that may try to steal
the carcass, rather than proof that they feel any sort of guilt.


Dann Pigdon                   Australian Dinosaurs:
GIS / Archaeologist         http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.alphalink.com.au/~dannj/