26 November 2007

Survival of the Faintest

Friday night saw me round at a friends' flat marvelling at a rough cut preview of the latest Soyabean production -- I'll explain another time -- and in stitches as I was shown this hilarious clip.

I can't believe that I'd never heard of myotonic goats before, and if you haven't either you really ought to watch the clip. I'm not joking. It features some fine umbrella action.

These zoological absurdities are a scream. Myotonic goats, also known as wooden-legged goats, stiff-legged goats, Tennessee scare goats, and fainting goats, have a tendency to faint at the drop of a hat. Or anything else, I gather. It seems these poor fellas suffer from a condition called myotonia congenita, which basically means that any shock causes their legs to seize up for about ten seconds. Even the slightest bit of excitement can cause them to keel over - the prospect of dinner, say.

How they procreate is beyond me.

Perhaps even more remarkably, considering their congenital vulnerabilities, their average life expectancy is generally between twelve and fifteen years. How? Seriously, how?

Their lineage sounds like the stuff of legend. Apparently a reclusive farmer named Jon Tinsley, who may have been from Nova Scotia, turned up in Tennessee in the early 1800s accompanied by three fainting nanny goats and a billy that was anything but gruff. He sold the comical beasts to a Dr H.H. Mayberry, who bred the feeble creatures. Aside from being an easy source of meat and -- I presume -- entertainment, they proved useful to shepherds, who would deploy a few fainting goats amongst their flocks. The thinking was that the goats would freeze if the flocks were attacked by wolves or other predators; becoming easy prey they would distract the predators and allow the sheep to flee.

What the hapless goats felt about this, sadly, is not a matter of record.

And speaking of sheep, which I so rarely do, I was informed today of a whole series of Aardman Animations that have somehow slipped my notice. It seems that Shaun the Sheep, scenestealer extraordinaire from A Close Shave, is now the star of his own BBC series, with forty seven-minute episodes already made. And some of them are online.

Granted, it's not Wallace and Gromit, those notorious corrupters of youth, but what is?


Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

Wait, so the sheep that tip over in Dave and the Giant Pickle that always amused me as a young lad may not be as unreal as I always thought? Or are we speaking of parodies and funny fake reports here? 8^) I wish I had time right now to just check it out for myself.

nmrboy said...

fainting goats were on series 'e' of qi; naturally it is on youtube:


right at the end, following ecstasy and chickens sitting on nuclear weapons. naturally.