Deer capable of teasing

12.01.2012

In Spanish province La Mancha Ла-Манча, on the historical homeland of Don Quixote, there is the largest in Europe farm of Iberian red deer. counting 250 individuals. Besides, each year, in May-June, up to 50 small spotty newborn calves appear on this farm. This farm belongs to University of Castilla La Mancha, that is situated in the town Albacete, and is used for teaching students as well as for scientific research. Hind milk content and productivity, mechanical and mineral content of male antlers and deer behaviour are studied here. Each animal is ear-tagged or marked with a numbered collar, what allows to distinguish among the individual deer. The farm management is exciting: all the keeping-related work is made by two persons, having at their disposal one quadrocycle, two tractors and a machine for mixing fodders.

Iberian red deer are very interesting by their vocal behaviour. In September, during the rut, stags start roaring to attract females and to deter rival males. During their roars, stags strongly protrude their tongues, thus it seems they tease the rival males. Such strange behaviour does not occur in any other deer. This is the more surprising considering that, for the duration of their calls, a stag pronouncedly retracts the larynx down, nearly up to the sternum. However, both the larynx and the tongue are attached to the same small bone, the hyoid. It turns that, during a call, the larynx and the tongue are strongly pulled out in just opposite directions. It forces the hypoid to move down, creating something like scoop under the lower jaw. But whatever you may do, to tease properly your competitors!

More interesting about this farm and its deer along to photos of males, females and calves, can be found in the popular paper Deer of La Mancha.pdf, translation of text to English: Deer of La Mancha_translate.pdf. Sounds of the Iberian and other deer can be found in the Gallery at http://www.bioacoustica.org .

 

 

 

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