A bit of a silly one today. Because I’m in that kind of mood. And I’m seriously dehydrated…
A few months ago, I had a bad haircut. It was really bad. All these weeks down the line and it’s finally starting to right itself. Nature always does. And during those darkest days of bad haircut, I sought refuge in nature. I turned to it; searched for answers. And in it I found… Countless examples of really bad haircuts. Nature is all about bad haircuts. Really.
Take this guy. I’m talking about the one in the middle. The one with the fluffy mullet. See how his own brother on the left doesn’t want to be seen with him? And the other guy on the right is opening mocking him? Bad hair will do that.
Or take this unfortunate impala . He walked right through a golden orb web spider’s web. And now there’s a giant spider hovering above his face. Fortunately for the impala, even through the spider has what we call ‘aposematic colouring’ that makes it look all dangerous, it’s actually pretty harmless. And that’s good, because it’s not going anywhere soon; the golden orb web spider is renounced for how strong its web is. It’s like fishing line, and once it’s stuck to something, it’s going to stay stuck. Can it get much worse?
Actually, it can. If you’re this tree. It’s a broad leafed coral tree (Erythrina latissima) and easily one of South Africa’s more spectacular trees. Unless of course, it’s just been attacked by an elephant. Like this one. Most of our trees have got serious defenses. If they’re not covered in nasty thorns, they’re usually either exceptionally toxic or terrible tasting. Not this coral tree though. Apparently, it’s just all-round inviting. Huge, delicious cabbagy leaves and not spikes to get in the way? Fabulous. That’s why they’ve been decimated in game reserves.
Fortunately for every one of us, tree included, it gets better. The owl will grow up and lose the awkward down fluff he needed to keep warm as a chick. The impala will walk through another bush some other time and dislodge his hitchhiker. The tree’s trunk is still intact too, and wasn’t ring-barked by the hungry elephant, so even though it could take years, it’ll also outgrow its terrible haircut.
But there’s one case (okay, lots but we’re simplifying this) in nature where it doesn’t get better. Ever.
We can tell the difference between male and female giraffes in te field by looking at their horns – their ‘ossicles.’ Males, like the one below are generally bald. Why? Well, being boys, they like to mindlessly smack each other with the tops of their horns. If you do that too many times – and they all do – you eventually wear off what little hair you had to begin with. Shame. And this is one haircut that’s never growing out…
Hoofnote: Okay, giraffes don’t ‘mindlessly smack’ each other. Almost nothing in nature is without a point and giraffe boys fight for the right to mate and enhance their species. It’s very noble, but they still look silly.