A Stupid Joke About Elephants


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You’ve probably been taught that you can tell the difference between African Elephants and Indian Elephants by looking at their head and ears. The larger African Elephants have a rounded cranium and big ears (with a shape somewhat like the continent of Africa itself!), whereas the smaller Indian Elephants have a two-lobed skull and diminutive ears that tuck tidily alongside their heads.

An African Elephant and an Indian Elephant, with the different head & ear shape clearly visible.
If you’re inside the elephant or have access to an extraordinarily-large X-ray machine, you can also differentiate by counting the ribs: African Elephants tend to have 21 pairs, Indian Elephants only 20.

But suppose you don’t manage to get a glimpse at the front end of the elephant as it passes you. What hope is there of identifying the species? Well: you can look at its back!

Concave back of an African Elephant.
Never forget: this back belongs to an African Elephant.

African Elephants, it turns out, have a concave back, whereas Indian elephants have a convex back (a bit like a hump)!

Convex back of an Indian Elephant.
You could probably come up with some kind of mnemonic if you wanted, like “African Elephants back down when Indian Elephants back up.” But perhaps a better one than that.

I was having difficulty sleeping one night during the UK‘s current heatwave, so naturally I opted to practice my newfound ability to distinguish elephant species by their spines. Indian, Indian, African, Indian, African, African… etc.

And then I came across this one:

A flat elephant back, neither concave nor convex.
What is this thing?

African Elephant backs are concave. Indian Elephant backs are convex. But what does it mean when you see a flat elephant’s back?

It turns out…

…that’s a grey area.

Dan with a stuffed toy (African) elephant.
You’re welcome/I’m sorry. Delete as applicable.
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Dan Q found GCA7Q4A Elephant Parade

This checkin to GCA7Q4A Elephant Parade reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Big thanks to the cache owner for their note, letting me know that the cache location is still accessible. Somehow I’d not seen the obvious route. Followed a family of ducks and soon found the cache location. So excited I could jump for joy.

On a tree-lined canalside footpath, Dan leaps theatrically into the air as if in incredible excitement.
In fact, I did!

FP awarded in part for the lovely cache but mostly for the attentive CO who posted a note so promptly. TFTC!


Where’s My Elephant?

This article is a repost promoting content originally published elsewhere. See more things Dan's reposted.

The “where’s my elephant?” theory takes it name, of course, from The Simpsons episode in which Bart gets an elephant (Season 5, episode 17, to be precise). For those of you who don’t know the episode: Bart wins a radio contest where you have to answer a phone call with the phrase, “KBBL is going to give me something stupid.” That “something stupid” turns out to be either $10,000, or “the gag prize”: a full-grown African elephant. Much to the presenters’ surprise, Bart chooses the elephant — which is a problem for the radio station, since they don’t actually have an elephant to give him. After some attempts at negotiation (the presenters offer Principal Skinner $10,000 to go about with his pants pulled down for the rest of the school year; the presenters offer to use the $10,000 to turn Skinner into “some sort of lobster-like creature”), Bart finds himself kicked out of the radio station, screaming “where’s my elephant?”

…the “where’s my elephant?” theory holds the following:

  1. If you give someone a joke option, they will take it.
  2. The joke option is a (usually) a joke option for a reason, and choosing it will cause everyone a lot of problems.
  3. In time, the joke will stop being funny, and people will just sort of lose interest in it.
  4. No one ever learns anything.

For those that were surprised when Trump was elected or Brexit passed a referendum, the “Where’s My Elephant?” theory of history may provide some solace. With reference to Boaty McBoatface and to the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, Tom Whyman pitches that “joke” options will be selected significantly more-often that you’d expect or that they should.

Our society is like Bart Simpson. But can we be a better Bart Simpson?

If that didn’t cheer you up: here’s another article, which more-seriously looks at the political long-game that Remainers in Britain might consider working towards.

Safe Road Use Of Elephants

Aside from the main point of this article, I found it most amusing to find that state-run Indian elephants are fitted with reflectors ‘in an attempt to prevent road accidents’. What does it take to accidentally crash into an elephant?

Elephant wearing reflectors