April 2, 2012

Irrelevant Reflection

As I watched two goats dueling outside my house, I reflected that humans seem to be the only animals, as far as my observations go, that get knocked out in a fight.  Consider: head-butting duels between goats and other ungulates never result in a knock out.  They charge each other and slam their heads together.  One of them decides that he has been bested, and sheepishly totters off.  If you watch enough Discover Channel, NatGeo, and Animal Planet, you will see a variety of head-on collisions - an elephant toppling a telephone pole in a rage, a bird slamming into a window, a dolphin face-butting a shark, a monkey nose-diving out of a tree - and they never seem to get knocked out.

To be clear, I'm sure that it is possible for other animals to get knocked out, even though I've never seen it.  However, in intraspecies duels, it seems to me that human knockouts are exceptionally more frequent when compared to duels within other species.

At this point, you may consider my observation and say, "How nice it must be not to be able to get knocked out."

I disagree.

Fights in the animal kingdom have two possible outcomes: capitulation or death.  Humans are special, because human fights have a third bonus outcome: knocked out.  The knocked out human has neither voluntarily submitted nor died, but has been rendered "nonfunctional" and, therefore, defeated.  It's convenient, actually - it saves the defeated human from the humiliation of submission, and also from death.  It's both a life saver and a face saver.  It's the best way to suffer defeat.  I feel sorry for animals that can't do this.