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612835.  Mon Sep 14, 2009 1:35 pm Reply with quote

A hyrax (from Greek ὕραξ "shrewmouse") is any of four species of fairly small, thickset, herbivorous mammals in the order Hyracoidea. They live in Africa and the Middle East.

Hyraxes are well-furred rotund creatures with a mere stump for a tail. They are about one-third the size of a Corgi; most measure between 30-70 cm long and weigh between 2-5kg. From a distance, a hyrax could be mistaken for a very well-fed rabbit or guinea pig.

They also have much in common with rock stars, a group of scientists including the appropriately named Dr Geffen have discovered

... that hyraxes (small, furry animals that are the closest living relatives of elephants) sing to one another, and they suspected that the songs have something to do with courtship, since they happen less frequently once the animals have mated. Otherwise, though, they had little idea what hyraxes were singing about. Over three years, therefore, Dr Koren recorded the songs and studied the behaviour of 18 male hyraxes, and also collected their fur for hormone analysis. Then, she and Dr Geffen analysed the data to look for correlations between the pattern of a hyrax’s song and other details of its anatomy and behaviour. They discovered, as they report in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, that male hyraxes are doing far more than just repetitively communicating that they are ready to mate. They are providing their neighbours with a list of vital statistics: their body weight, size, health, social status and hormonal levels.

Wailing, which starts a typical hyrax song, indicates weight. The more wails, the heavier the singer. A mid-song sound that Dr Koren and Dr Geffen dubbed “chucks” communicates size (body length and head diameter) and also level of stress (as measured by cortisone levels). Songs conclude with a series of snorts that are connected to the singer’s levels of certain male hormones. Finally, the researchers discovered that peaks in snort-frequency provided information on an animal’s dominance, and also the condition of its pelt.

The unstated assumption is that these are all honest signals—that is, their frequency or the quality of their production is directly related to the singer’s underlying physiology and cannot be modified to give a false impression of his fitness. Lady hyraxes are therefore provided with a reliable précis of the strengths and weaknesses of each of their potential mates.

Hyraxes, along with elephants, manatees and dugongs do not have their testes located in their scrotums.

612836.  Mon Sep 14, 2009 1:39 pm Reply with quote

There's a whole thread dedicated to these fellas in the QI Animals section...

post 170263 onwards.

Ion Zone
612947.  Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:52 pm Reply with quote

I'm getting one. :}

614284.  Thu Sep 17, 2009 5:41 am Reply with quote

The name also refers to these creatures:


614344.  Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:35 am Reply with quote

Saw them on Mt Kenya - very cute!

Alfred E Neuman
614356.  Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:05 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
Hyraxes, along with elephants, manatees and dugongs do not have their testes located in their scrotums.

I know a some men whose wives don't let them carry their testes in their scrotums either.

614480.  Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:02 pm Reply with quote

Funny, I thought this thread was about Hydrox - the Oreo-like cookie/biscuit that is actually older than the Oreo. I always thought my mother was being cheap buying the knock-off brand. As it turns out, she was rewarding innovation.

I just learned that Hydrox doesn't exist anymore. As the company was purchased by Kellogg's and the poorly performing cookie was discontinued.


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