Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Telling Their Arse From Their Antlers

As regular readers may know I am always keen to help scientists push forwards the frontiers of human knowledge. So 364 days after my last attempt to be helpful comes another opportunity. Scientists have discovered that cattle and deer tend to lie in a North-South axis rather than an East-West one, a useful thing to know as it obviates the need to carry cumbersome compasses, however there is a problem:
The scientists were unable to distinguish between the head and rear of the cattle, but could tell that the animals tended to face either north or south.
Ok the trick to identifying which end is which is fairly straightforward if you follow these suggestions:
  • Count the number of eyes, if there are two it is the face, if there is one brown eye you may be at the other end.
  • Try putting a treat in the animals mouth, if it swallows it then it's the face again, if you get kicked, don't blame me.
  • Check which direction the animal moves in, usually the head is at the front.

3 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Ah, come on. They were going by satellite images, although as you say, a bit of fieldwork would have sorted it out one way or another.

BTW, of course deer can distinguish magnetic north, else how would they get home after delivering all the Xmas presents?

JuliaM said...

"of course deer can distinguish magnetic north, else how would they get home after delivering all the Xmas presents?"

And as only female reindeer keep their antlers throughout winter, that gives the lie to the claim that the distaff side can't navigate!

Anonymous said...

I suspect cows try to maximize comfort and have no preferred direction.

e.g. When the sun is too hot reduce profile. If the wind is too cold minimize heat loss.

To detect any preferred direction watch them grazing in a level meadow on a pleasant day.