May 7, 2009

Behold The Flehmen Response

Photo source: Peter Meade
We've all seen animals do these faces, especially horses and cats. But it wasn't until Neil identified this particular grimace in my zebra post that I found out that it had a name.

Behold the Flehmen response.

The Flehmen response is characterized by the curling of the lip to facilitate the processing of scents, namely pheromones. There are all sorts of pheromones: warning, food trail, mating, etc., so who knows what these particular beasts are getting a whiff of. But the rhino in the last shot looks like a tea connoisseur sniffing at a new brew.

Thanks, Neil.

Photo source: Peter Meade


























Photo source: Sarah K. Andrew





















Photo source: Heidi

















Photo source: Max Waugh


























Photo source: CP/RD 2K7

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been curling my lip and flaring my nostrils for the past 5 minutes in attempts to trigger some kind of magic pheremone processing. Disappointingly, it doesn't seem to work for humans. It just makes you look uglier.

Anonymous said...

The first three pictures look like yearbook photos.

Raging Wombat said...

You may not smell anything new, but I'm proud of you for trying.

Megan said...

horses also sometimes do this when they are in pain. Its one of the first signs that something is wrong especially in a female horse.

APRIL LORIER said...

Reminds me of my silly sons when they were pre-teen and teenaged. They used to "out ugly" each other with faces that resemble these photos! Kept Mama laughing, for sure!

Just a request: We in So California could use some good thoughts and prayers right now. As posted on my blog, we are burning again, and I live very close to the burn area. Thanks!

Anon3 said...

"We in So California could use some good thoughts and prayers right now."

Oh, I was going to volunteer or something, but praying is much easier. Good idea.

Raging Wombat said...

Be cool, anon3. April came here to enjoy the animals, not to have her faith belittled.

Anonymous said...

Hi April, we had some horrific fires here in Australia in February. You've probably already done so, but if not, it's a good idea to have a plan for evacuation ready [destination, route etc].

One hard learned lesson that has come out of the fires here is- get out early. Don't hang around - once the smoke gets thick you won't be able to see to drive to safety.

Many families perished in their cars in the February fires in Victoria because they left too late and couldn't see to drive through the smoke, or were trapped by fallen trees across the road.

All the best to you and your family.

La Pew

Anon3 said...

"Be cool, anon3. April came here to enjoy the animals, not to have her faith belittled."

I came here to enjoy the animals too, not to be preached at and be bothered by all the god/religion nonsense.

If you're going to allow her to continue to spew god/religious nonsense, then you gotta allow me to counter that.

If April is going to go around saying things like that, then she has to be prepared to "have her faith belittled".

Raging Wombat said...

Anon3, it was your choice to become offended, and then to give offense. She's faced with the possibility of losing her home, and your reaction is to be offended and make a snarky comment?

There's nothing to 'counter' here. She's asking for prayers. If you don't want to offer one, so be it. If you want to 'counter' her, feel free to start your own blog and be snarky there.

Anon3 said...

I wasn't offended per se.

There IS something to counter, and I hinted at it in my first comment. Prayers do not work. This has even been shown in numerous studies, one of which (with a large sample size) is this one: http://www.reuters.com/article/ousiv/idUSTRE5463T820090508

What's more, while her intentions might have been good, the whole idea of prayer (and religion, but I'll stick with the example of prayer for now) has negative effects. If people believe that prayer works, they are more likely to pray instead of actually trying to fix whatever needs fixing. Furthermore, I think the idea that prayer works can have emotional effects on people. If people's prayers "go unanswered", then they might get feelings of guilt or anxiety because they worry that maybe it was their fault. Maybe they worry that they are not worthy enough, or that they didn't pray enough, etc. This is a bigger issue than about April and her house, although for all I know April herself could suffer even more if her prayers "go unanswered".

It is sad that I have to point this out when her house is being threatened, but I don't think your house being threatened is an adequate justification for promoting something which can have these kinds of negative effects. Especially when what is being promoted has no chance of actually working.


"An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated. "
-Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Anonymous said...

"Oh, I was going to volunteer or something, but praying is much easier. Good idea."

No,no. Please volunteer. They can always use you to smother the flames.

Raging Wombat said...

This is a blog about ugly animals. And you're free to start your own blog, anon3. But to address just a couple of points...

The link you gave was to an article on U.S. banks, but that's irrelevant. I did a quick search and found an article about a study that asserts that prayer does work:

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/faithandhealing/2009/04/the_power_of_prayer_part_i--scientific_studies.html

I have no idea if that study is worth a dime. But it just goes to show you can find a study that'll support almost any argument.

That's a nice quote from O'Hair. But I wonder how often she looked around and noticed how many hospitals were founded by religious institutions. One of the largest health care organizations here in Northern California is Catholic Healthcare West.

And one last note: I can pretty safely bet that the majority of volunteers who will come to the aid of those displaced or injured in the fires will come from church congregations.

Anyways...back to ugly animals. You can find a million blogs devoted to religion or atheism. But how many can you find that bring you biopiracy one day, and then the Flehmen response on the next?

Anon3 said...

"This is a blog about ugly animals. And you're free to start your own blog, anon3."

Why do you have this double standard? This blog is about ugly animals. And April is free to start her own blog. In fact, she DOES have her own blogS.

About the study... whoopps! I'm not sure how that happened. Here- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12082681/

"But it just goes to show you can find a study that'll support almost any argument."

You are absolutely right. Bad methodologies, scientists' biases, the bias introduced in publication, and just sheer chance can affect this. That is why science involves repeating experiments. If you look at the studies with the best methodologies and the largest sample sizes, they show that prayer does not work. That is partly why I linked (or meant to anyway) to that study in my previous post, it had such a large sample size and it is pretty good.

"[...]how many hospitals were founded by religious institutions."

That's irrelevant. She not say that religious institutions didn't build hospitals ("a hospital should be built instead of a CHURCH"). What exactly was your point?

"[...]the majority of volunteers who will come to the aid of those displaced or injured in the fires will come from church congregations."

Also irrelevant. Some 86% of the public in the US is religious (I don't know how many belong to churches), so that is to be expected. I can safely say that in a mostly nonreligious country, the majority of the volunteers are nonreligious too.

"You can find a million blogs devoted to religion or atheism."

Yes, you can. That is one reason why April shouldn't have brought prayer and religion into this. They have absolutely nothing to do with "ugly" animals.

booge said...

Wow...just wow. I think there are some comments on here I am just going to have to stop reading if I am going to continue to love my UglyOverload.

It's not you, Raging Wombat, not you at all. There's just a zeitgeist of self righteousness, combativeness and competition lately that wasn't there before--since that contentious eel. Please come back, y'all! We can rebuild the comments--stronger, faster, chill again...

But the photos made me laugh out loud. Flehmen FTW!

Raging Wombat said...

Fair enough, booge!

anon-awesome! said...

wow, more comentroversy.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with booge! We need that light-hearted spirit back here. After all, we are supposed to be commenting on the ugly animals and all.. Speaking of which, the horses are freaky with those faces!