Moose, elk, whatever, lend me your antlers

Guardian: Moose's sharp hearing is attributed to antlers

They are some of the most extravagant headgear in the animal kingdom, but a moose's antlers are not just for show. Scientists believe they act as elaborate hearing aids that help males to find calling females…

Scientists had previously suspected the antlers helped with locating mates because males with them were found to be better able to locate females than those without.

George Bubenik, of the University of Guelph, Ontario, and his son Peter, of Cleveland State University in Ohio, decided to test the antler amplifier hypothesis by using a moose skull and a fake ear made by a TV special effects team.

The two scientists put a microphone inside the fake ear, placed between the sweeping Alaskan moose antlers. They measured how well the microphone picked up sounds made by a speaker 32ft (10 metres) away while it was either facing towards the sound, away from it, or sideways on into the bowl of the antlers.

Honestly, stuff like this knocks my reasonably well-paid office job into a cocked hat. "What did you do at work today, dear?" "Oh, I stuck a microphone into a model of an elk's head."

The above article explains that what the North Americans call moose, the Europeans call elk. As a European, this one has done my head in for years: I call them moose too, you see—because that's what they were called on all the American/Canadian TV program[me]s I saw as a kid. To confuse matters further, our friends over the pond call an entirely different species of deer an elk. And their so-called robins are just weird.

Come back Carl Linnaeus, all is forgiven!

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
Buy my book: On the Moor: Science, History and Nature on a Country Walk
…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.”—PZ Myers
Amazon: UK | .COM | etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *