Cynomys ludovicianus

| 18 Comments
IMG_0323_600_PrairieDog.jpg

Cynomys ludovicianus – black-tailed prairie dog, scrutinizing a passing photographer on his bicycle, Boulder Creek Path, Boulder, Colorado.

18 Comments

Idle curiosity: Prairie dogs are a prey species, and consequently their eyes point outward rather than straight ahead, for maximum angular field. Yet they often turn and face straight at you like this one. When he does so, his eyes are pointing at about 90° to what seems to be his subject. Does anyone have any idea what he is actually seeing? Can he really be looking at me?

Al! Al! Al! Is that you, Al!

He’s not responding. Could be Steve.

Steve! Steve! Steve! Yo, Steve!

I don’t really know, but it is possible that by looking straight ahead with those wide-set eyes, she can better use her stereoscopic vision to triangulate the distance to you or any other possible threat.

Matt Young said:

Idle curiosity: Prairie dogs are a prey species, and consequently their eyes point outward rather than straight ahead, for maximum angular field. Yet they often turn and face straight at you like this one. When he does so, his eyes are pointing at about 90° to what seems to be his subject. Does anyone have any idea what he is actually seeing? Can he really be looking at me?

I wonder if zeroing in on sound and odors might also be contributing to the behavior.

Cute li’l feller! Seems to me that I read some years ago that in an effort to find ever more unusual and exotic pets, some people were making “companion animals” out of prairie dogs. But it was A Really Bad Idea because they’re such a social species that they need the company of their own kind and do poorly as isolated individuals in captivity.

Hm. I like the sound and odor hypothesis better. I don’t think she can get much stereoscopy in her peripheral vision (surely her foveas point outward?). Incidentally, is it a female? Or are we just being PC?

“Lou’s Dogmouse”? Cute.

Hence why “Dramatic Chipmunk” looks askance rather than straight on?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1Y73sPHKxw

I beg to differ from your caption statement - The Cynomys ludovicianus is not on a bicycle. ;o)

Nice picture.

Roger said:

I beg to differ from your caption statement - The Cynomys ludovicianus is not on a bicycle. ;o)

Nice picture.

Perhaps the bicycle is vestigial. :)

Based on the photo, prairie dogs appear better adapted to use a Segway.

I’got a short YouTube video slideshow of prarie dogs at http://www.youtube.com/BurnettPaul#p/u/4/cNkomDxu14Y

Weird - the prarie dog link is:

http://www.youtube.com/BurnettPaul#p/u/4/cNkomDxu14Y

Paul Burnett said:

I’ve got a short YouTube video slideshow of prarie dogs at http://www.youtube.com/BurnettPaul#p/u/4/cNkomDxu14Y

Nice pics! The prairie dog link is actually here. I have no idea why the program truncated it above.

Incidentally, the prairie dog in the last picture, who is seen in profile, seems to me to be looking right at the photographer.

The Cynomys ludovicianus is not on a bicycle.

Yeah, I thought about rephrasing that, but it seems to me that, because the prepositional phrase directly follows the word photographer, it modifies photographer. Reminds me of the sentence

I photographed a man using a camera

which better demonstrates the importance of word order.

Matt Young said:

I photographed a man using a camera

…better demonstrates the importance of word order.

So does

Throw the cow over the fence some hay

Roger said:

I beg to differ from your caption statement - The Cynomys ludovicianus is not on a bicycle. ;o)

I weep at how little time you guys obviously spend on the internet looking at cute cat pictures … the caption obviously is supposed to read “scrutinizing a passing photographer on his *invisible* bicycle”

The photographer was on the prairie dog’s bicycle?

The photographer was on the prairie dog’s bicycle?

For all you prescriptivists, I claim that pronouns are subject to something akin to the principle of proximity – in this case the antecedent of the pronoun his is the closest noun, photographer. Without this principle, we would always have to write like lawyers: “… scrutinizing a passing photographer who had been riding on the bicycle of the said photographer.” Or maybe “aforementioned photographer.”

Try, “scrutinizing a passing bicyclist, who snapped this picture.” See how easy that was?

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on May 10, 2010 12:00 PM.

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