Wild Things: Life as We Know It

Bats’ barotrauma, fallow deer, Tahitian vanilla, lucky dinosaurs

A fallow deer with its impressive but unevenly formed antler looks straight into the light of the setting sun. (Horst Ossinger / dpa / Corbis)


A fallow deer
(Maura McCarthy)
Name: The fallow deer (Dama dama), a European species, which mates in early fall
Bucks: Fight among themselves and issue repeated calls, known technically as groans, during the rut.
Does: Pick a mate by listening to the males' groans.
Scientists: Have determined what females listen for. Researchers at the University of Zurich found that the acoustical properties of a buck's groan are related less to his size than his social rank—and that does mate with a dominant buck more often. It's the first time auditory discernment of social dominance has been found in animals other than primates.

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