Sunday, April 06, 2008

Nuts to this.

When I was home in Rhode Island, I was sitting at the kitchen table working on my father’s laptop. He kept distracting me by pointing out the antics of a squirrel outside. Then he told me that when he was a boy, they used to learn in school about all the rituals of springtime. For instance, they learned that the squirrels dig up all the nuts that they buried for the winter. He said his classmates used to ask the teacher, “But how do they know? How do the squirrels remember where they buried the nuts?” The teacher never answered. A few weeks ago my father was sitting on the porch watching the squirrels and he realized that the squirrels must be able to smell the nuts underground – that’s how they know. He said, "I can't believe it took me fifty years to figure that out!"

Rather than compliment him on this belated triumph of logic, I told him something that would really blow his mind. I said, "You know, camels are the only animals, besides humans of course, that remember where their dead are buried. When Genghis Khan was killed, his men were retreating and had to quickly bury the body. They didn't want to mark the burial site for fear of grave robbers, so they slaughtered some baby camels and buried them with the body. Later, when it was safe to return, the mother camels led them back to the place where Genghis Khan, and the camels, were buried."

"Is that true," asked my father.

"Yes, that's true."

"Wow, I'm going to tell that story to everyone I know."

So here's my question to you, readers, is that true? And if by some chance I didn't make that up, can anyone pass along some corroborating texts?


1 comment:

Paula said...

I don't know if this qualifies, but elephants remember their dead, and grieve for lost members of the herd. As elephants obviosly aren't buried there seems to be no evidence that they can trace a grave, but this article does suggest that they can recognise even the bones of a long deceased member.