One of this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes went to an experiment in which rhinoceroses were hanged upside down to observe what impact it caused on the animals.
Teams studying the germs in chewing gum adhered to sidewalks and how to manage cockroaches on submarines were among the other beneficiaries.
The mock Nobels aren’t quite as well-known as the “genuine” Nobels.
Due to Covid limitations, the event could not take place at its normal location of Harvard University in the United States.
Instead, all of the excitement took place online.
Annals of Improbable Research, a science comedy magazine, claims that its Ig Nobel prizes should make you giggle first, then lead you to think.
And the rhino research, which won the Ig Nobel Prize for transportation research this year, accomplishes just that. What could be sillier than hanging 12 rhinos upside down for ten minutes?
But wildlife vet Robin Radcliffe of Cornell University and the team did just that in Namibia to see if the animals’ health was jeopardized when they were hung by their legs under a chopper.
It’s a technique that’s increasingly being utilized in African conservation efforts to move rhinos between fractured habitat regions.
According to Robin, no one has done the fundamental study to see if the tranquilized animals’ hearts and lungs could deal with upside-down flight.
“Namibia was the very first country to take a stand back and say, ‘hey, let’s research this and see whether this is a secure thing to do for rhinos,” he said BBC News.
So, in cooperation with the Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism, his crew used a crane to hold 12 tranquilized black rhinoceroses by their feet and evaluate their bodily responses.
The creatures, it turns out, fared admirably. In addition, there was proof that the rhinos performed better in this odd posture than when they were lying flat on their backs or on their sides.
“I believe the explanation for this is because when a rhino lies on its side, blood flow has positional consequences.” In other ways, the lower sections of the lung receive a lot of blood flow for gas exchange, but the top part of the lung does not receive as much blood flow due to gravity, thus when a rhino is hanging upside down, it’s almost as if it’s standing upside down; the lung is evenly perfused.
“Because rhinos are so hefty, we’ve observed muscle injury and myopathy in rhinos who have been on their side for too long, or on their sternum in particular. Apart from the sensation of a strap around their ankle, there is no weight on their legs “Robin said.
The prizes were presented on the occasion by genuine Nobel awardees, including Frances Arnold (chemistry, 2018), Carl Weiman (physics, 2001), and Eric Maskin (physics, 2001). (economics, 2007).
The victors received a trophy that they had to build themselves from a PDF printout, as well as a monetary reward in the shape of a counterfeit Zimbabwean currency worth $10 trillion.
“We are constantly searching for grant financing,” Robin Radcliffe remarked with a smile when asked what he’d do with his “cash” payment.
“I was not even sure if the Ig Nobel was a good thing or a negative one when I first heard about it. But I believe that the message that “it makes you laugh and then ponder” is exactly what we are looking for. More people should be aware of the efforts being made to rescue the wonderful animals who share our planet with us.”
Pete Morkel, a crew member and wildlife doctor, added: “This has had a significant impact on rhino and, to a lesser extent, elephant relocation. It is now acceptable to pick up these large creatures by their feet. The next step is to do studies on additional animals such as buffalo, hippo, and perhaps giraffe.”
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