Sunday, August 7, 2011

Creature Feature: Dik-Dik.

If you saw a cute little antelope like this running along the African grasslands, what would you call it? Bambi (even though antelope are not THAT close to deer)? Madoqua guentheri? A pile of "D'AWWWW" and "let me show my kids this thing?"

Haha. Science disagrees with whatever you said. That little antelope is officially called a dik-dik. No, an internet troll did not hack my account. That is its name. It sounds exactly like the dirty word for a man's phallus repeated. Oh, and yes, the Ultimate Muscle character was named after this antelope.

His dub name: Dik Dik Van Dik. His Japanese name: Gazelleman. WHAT THE FUCK, 4KIDS?

The name does not come from a scientist's dirty mind. Instead, the word "dik-dik" is onomatopoeic of the (larger!) female dik-dik's warning call. These antelope are small - 30-40 cm (12-16 in.) at the shoulder, but that warning call has ruined many a hunting party. Besides warning other dik-diks, other life on the plains takes the call as a sign to get the fuck out. The only people who really call these antelope dicks are disgruntled hunters.

This good venison?

Like the klipspringer, another adorable antelope, dik-diks are designed to take the heat. They have a special cooling system in their cute little snouts that recirculates blood so that the dik-dik does not overheat. By panting, the dik-dik can withstand temperatures of up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). It's not just cute - it's efficient.

How do you make a cute antelope cuter and more efficient? By making it mate for life. Dik-diks are one of the few animals in which the male and female mate for life. Besides sounding wonderful for those who believe in true love, being monogamous saves lives. It's easier to avoid predators when not looking for mates...and with somebody around to watch your back.


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