09 February 2008

Exploding Goats!

Having mentioned a couple of weeks back Herodotus' improbable tale of mice thwarting an Assyrian invasion, it strikes me that it's been far too long since I've regaled you with tales of animals being enlisted in the wars of men. After all, it was October that I recited Cornelius Nepos' description of Hannibal's snake bombs!

And so, I'm sure you'll be glad to know that the Royal Navy has stopped blowing up goats, perhaps as a sop their allies over the ocean, seeing as Bill the Goat is the official mascot of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.
The British military said Feb. 6 it will no longer use goats in experiments to gauge the risks of evacuating a submerged submarine.

The tests, conducted for years by the Ministry of Defense, involved herding the animals into a special chamber and then drastically changing the air pressure. . .

The tests were meant to simulate what sailors would experience should they need to evacuate a submerged submarine. The difference in pressure between the deep sea and the surface can cause fatal decompression sickness, often referred to as the bends.

Goats were chosen because of their physiological similarities to human beings.
It seems that the tests were carried out somewhere on the south coast, and that 128 goats heroically gave up their lives for their country between 2000 and 2006, six of them dying in the actual experiments, and the other 122 being slaughtered afterwards, presumably to stop them from talking.

I can only presume these weren't Myotonic Goats.

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