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No. 47: Sep-Oct 1986

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How The Cheetah Lost Its Stotts

"Faced with a predator, for example, a cheetah, many deer, antelope and other bovids turn tail and run. But they also go in for a very curious display, before and during the run. They bounce up in the air, keeping all four legs straight. Stotting, as the display is known, must make the animal visible, and presumably also vulnerable to the predator. It certainly attracts the human observer's attention, and there has been no shortage of 'explanations' for this strange behavior."

Actually, at least 11 hypotheses have been proposed. T. Caro has observed Thomson's gazelles stott on more than 200 occasions, usually in response to a cheetah or himself. Caro thinks that adult gazelles stott to proclaim to the cheetah that it has been detected and no longer has surprise in its favor. Cheetahs often do give up after stotting. Further, stotting gazelles have never been seen to be caught -- so far.

(Anonymous; "How the Cheetah Lost Its Stotts," New Scientist, p. 34, June 19, 1986.)

Reference. More information on stotting and other unusual mammalian behavior, see BMB32 in our catalog: Biological Anomalies: Mammals I. Ordering information here.

Springbok stotting or 'pronking' A springbok stotting or 'pronking'

From Science Frontiers #47, SEP-OCT 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987