General Knowledge

The Science of GOATS!

We need some new episodes. Maybe something quantum? Airplanes, how do they fly? It’s magic, right? Yogurt or yoga? Segways? Who made them? Can we get rid of them all? Hopefully. How about bicycles? Tricycles? Who invented the bike? Cartoons are big. Physics of cartoons? Why doesn’t he fall down? [MUSIC] Goats are rambunctious and playful and hilarious and cute but WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THEIR EYES?! They’re part Kermit the Frog, part squid, part I don’t even know… Like most other ungulates, goats have horizontal rectangular pupils. Along with their eyes being on the side of their head, those slits let goats make out detail and depth perception nearly 360 degrees around their whole body.

This makes sense if you spend most of your life out in the open exposed to predators. But there’s a tradeoff to horizontal pupils, they can’t see well on the vertical axis. So if you’re gonna sneak up on a goat, do it from above. Goats. What’s up with the fainting? Sure, it’s cute and it makes a good YouTube video, but that is NOT how you goat. Fainting goats aren’t actually fainting. They actually remain conscious the whole time, but thanks to a hereditary genetic disorder their muscles often fail to relax after contracting thanks to a mutation in a muscle chloride channel. The condition, also seen in some humans and cats and dogs, is set off when they are panicked or scared, so stop sneaking up on goats already. Or don’t. It’s actually kind of adorable. Goats love standing on stuff. Anything. Sheet metal. Cows. Trampolines. Pigs. Basically if it is a thing, a goat will stand on it.

Goats developed their climbing ability because of their previously mentioned inability to seeing above or below, but it’s also to gain access to food out of the reach of other grazers, and to avoid predators, because it’s pretty hard to attack a goat on a completely vertical wall. Goats get their awesome climbing skills thanks to their special two-toed hooves. The pads of these hooves are soft and grippy, and they can spread out to sort of disperse the goat’s weight on a variety of surfaces. Their ninja-like ability makes sense, since domestic goats are descended from the mountain goats of Zagros, which sounds like a metal band from Game of Thrones.

Goats can make a wide variety of noises, but there’s no evidence that they can actually mimic human speech. Rather our brains are just so fine-tuned to pick out language that we can’t help but hear words in their maniacal screams. Researchers at Queen Mary University in London did report that goats can develop certain “accents” in their “voices” if they move to a different goat group.

In terms of adaptable animal “voices” this puts them in the select company of humans, dolphins, elephants, and Madonna that time she moved to England. They say goats will eat anything. While they probably wouldn’t go chomping on explosives, goats are browsing herbivores, meaning that they are curious eaters who will taste pretty much anything that resembles plant matter. Goats actually have nearly twice the taste buds that we do, but seem to have a high tolerance for bitter, sometimes toxic plants. They’ll eat cotton clothing, or even paper.

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