Since I’ve been out of town, we won’t have a kitteh contest entry this week, but don’t be alarmed: there are many more in the queue and posting will resume next week. In the meantime, reader Michael has sent me this new video of three caracal kittens born at the Oregon Zoo on June 8. They’re only two weeks old, and oy, are they cute!
We haven’t featured caracals before (Caracal caracal, a scientific name easy to remember); they’re gorgeous, tawny cats with huge tassled ears. They range over the Arabian peninsula, around the southern Mediterranean, and in subsaharan Africa. They’re relatively large, and can weigh up to 40 pounds. But of course you want to see the kittens:
And here’s an amazing video of a caracal taking down a guinea fowl. These cats can apparently jump 10 feet into the air (go here to see more leaping). Watch the whole video, for there are two impressive leaps.
Also note the awkward flight of the African widowbird male (2:10-2:20): sexual selection has given him such long tail feathers that he can barely fly. This shows that natural selection can actually reduce an animal’s viability (that male is an easy meal for predators), so long as its net fitness (total reproductive output) increases. In the case of widowbirds, experiments show that longer-tailed males are much more attractive to females. Sexual selection, then has driven the males to have longer tails because they get more mates, even if their survivorship is reduced.