, 18 tweets, 9 min read Read on Twitter
NEXT UP: 4th-seeded Bharal (Pseudois nayaur) versus 13th-seeded Stoat (Mustela erminea) #2019MMM
Returning MMM fans are well acquainted with our mighty mustelid, but here are some cool facts for all the newcomers watching at home #2019MMM
An average stoat weighs 220g, measures 34cm in length, and can take down prey well more than twice its size (King, 1983) #StoatsAsMeasurement #StoatIStheMeasurement #2019MMM
That's because stoats are carnivores with canines (the KILL teeth) and a tight jaw articulation called the mandibular fossa #saywhat #2019MMM
Due to this nifty anatomy, a stoat's jaw basically locks shut once they capture their prey (usually a bite to the back of the neck) to resist any and all struggling #ResistanceIsFutile #2019MMM
Stoats are also ambush hunters and excellent jumpers, well known to surprise their prey. Scientists have recorded the long-tailed weasel (stoat cousin) jumping ontop of nesting Ruffed Grouse from at least a foot away (Smith et al., 2003) #2019MMM
Our second competitor is also an exemplar jumper, the Bharal or the Himalayan blue sheep #2019MMM
Tipping the scales at 67-75kg (or 204-341 stoats), bharal tough it out on the high peaks in India, Pakistan, Nepal & Tibet, foraging for grass and trying to blend in with their surroundings (which is where their names comes from) #StoatsAsMeasurement #2019MMM
Bharal, like other high-altitude caprids (goats & sheep), demonstrate "an ability to climb slopes that 'would try
the most skilled and active mountaineer to ascend' " (Wang and Hoffman,1987 quoting Lydekker, 1898) #ClimbEveryMountain #2019MMM
Tonight, the bharal has home-court advantage, so the stoat finds itself on a mountainside in Dhaulagiri range of Nepal #2019MMM
The stoat has no trouble with the rocky habitat, but it is feeling a bit out of breath, now being well above sea level #2019MMM
An extra snack would help our mustelid out, so the stoat begins to navigate through the talus field (easy-peasey for tubular shaped animals) #2019MMM
It pops it's head up, and spies something slightly scrumptious: a Himalayan pika! (member of the mammalian order Lagomorpha, closely related to rabbits) #2019MMM
The stoat prepares to attack, getting it's canines ready... #2019MMM
The stoat leaps.....! #2019MMM
... but a loud noise scares the pika before the stoat hits its mark. A herd of bharal have started moving up slope in search of better foliage to munch. One particular large male seems to be leading the march .... #2019MMM
Not wanting to become a stoat-wich, our mighty mustelid dives beneath the rocks, to avoid an inadvertent squashing and to hunt more scrumptious pika #DieAnotherDay #2019MMM
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