Saturday April 08, 2017
There was an old badger who buried a cow
more stories from this episode
- 'They eat away your nose and your lips until they fall off'
- Earth sized telescope to take first ever photo of a black hole
- The most Canadian scientific discovery ever
- There was an old badger who buried a cow
- How are instincts inherited? A new theory says 'epigenetics.'
- Quirks & Questions: Are birds evolving to avoid window collisions?
- Full Episode
Scavengers have a less than stellar reputation. They're considered shifty, and not entirely trustworthy.
They live off death and decay, leading a hard-scrambled life in the shadow of more glamorous predators.
But new research, and some never-before-seen behaviour, is giving one scavenger its moment in the spotlight.
PhD student Evan Buechley used a camera-trap to capture footage of an American badger doing something quite extraordinary.
Watch the video below and you'll see a time-lapse of the badger excavating a hole beneath a calf carcass that is roughly four times its own size, which it then proceeds to bury. It also builds a den for itself right next to the cow. It took the badger about five days to complete all this work.
Why go to all the trouble? Buechley says it's a good supply of food for the badger - over a month's worth. Burying it in the cold winter ground in the desert also delays decomposition, much like a fridge does for our food.
Here's the research paper in Western North American Naturalist describing the results: Subterranean caching of domestic cow (Bos taurus) carcasses by American badgers (Taxidea taxus) in the Great Basin Desert, Utah