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← Monster-Sized Rabbits Discovered; Sadly, They Can't Hop

Monster-Sized Rabbits Discovered; Sadly, They Can't Hop - Comments

JTMcDaniel's Avatar Comment 1 by JTMcDaniel

A lovely article, complete with references to a pair of my favorite old movies, Harvey and Night of the Lepus. I don't think Harvey really counts, as he was invisible to everyone but Elwood, and wasn't actually a rabbit, but a pooka who appeared as one (and an apt subject here, being supernatural and imaginary, at least outside the realm of drama). Elwood's painting of Harvey suggested a rather humanoid rabbit, complete with trousers and a bow tie.

I believe I'd give the giant rabbits in Night of the Lepus the benefit of the doubt as to form, too. The giant size was artificially induced in a single generation, and I'd think changes in conformation would take a number of generations to begin to appear. What I really found curious about the movie was the way the rabbits not only got so much bigger, but turned carnivorous in the process. It was a really horrible old horror movie, with Janet Leigh frequently looking as if she'd rather be back in the shower than dealing with this nonsense. The rabbits were marginally more believable than the house-sized insects and arthropods that had been turning up on the screen, though.

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 23:05:06 UTC | #936134

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 2 by Ignorant Amos

Yeah..it's grand when they are lovely white fluffy feckers....Donnie Darko anybody?

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 00:17:54 UTC | #936146

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 3 by rrh1306

Damn you Paul. I saw two comments and I was sure no one could have made a Donnie Darko reference yet!

Comment 2 by Ignorant Amos :

Yeah..it's grand when they are lovely white fluffy feckers.... Donnie Darko anybody?

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 00:31:07 UTC | #936151

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 4 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 3 by rrh1306

Well, it immediately sprang to mind...still, I'm grateful not to be alone in the thought. We can share.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 00:42:25 UTC | #936155

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 5 by Red Dog

I think my first exposure to science writing outside of school were the many articles written by Isaac Asimov. I think I picked up the first book of essays thinking it would be more Sci fi stories and got hooked on them. He had a great one on the geometries of scale that described the math around things like gravitational force and showed why the giant ants and other bugs from horror movies would collapse in a useless heap rather than terrorize cities and girls in torn dresses.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 01:09:24 UTC | #936159

IDLERACER's Avatar Comment 6 by IDLERACER

I wonder what Elmer Fudd has to say about all this.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 04:21:14 UTC | #936188

Flapjack's Avatar Comment 7 by Flapjack

Comment 6 by IDLERACER :

I wonder what Elmer Fudd has to say about all this.

At the risk of being obvious...

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 09:44:23 UTC | #936224

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 8 by Sean_W

I think it resembles a big river rat.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 12:34:40 UTC | #936250

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan4discussion

Comment 6 by IDLERACER - I wonder what Elmer Fudd has to say about all this.

Never mind Elmer! What about Yosemite Sam?

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 13:20:59 UTC | #936263

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 10 by Zeuglodon

Comment 5 by Red Dog

I remember reading Asimov's essay The Relativity of Being Wrong. At the risk of sounding pompous, I already got the gist of what it was saying. However, Asimov's explanation was so well articulated that I came away with a better and more thorough understanding of the point because he explored his example (the shape of the Earth) further than I had explored it. I'm wondering whether to give his fiction writing, like Foundation, a try.

As for this article here, it reminded me a lot of Haldane's On Being the Right Size. That was an eye-opener of an essay.

Seems a strange contradiction that species isolated on islands can become gigantic or dwarf versions of mainland relatives. Maybe they're regressing to a mean, or the giants evolve because they face no predators, while the dwarfs are responding to food limitations? I'm interested whenever rodents evolve large forms, as I suspect their dental design and adaptability could make them very successful within tens of millions of years. The creatures of South America and prehistoric North America are spectacular examples, like the capybara and the prehistoric giant beaver.

I found some more articles here about Nuralagus rex, the giant rabbit, if you want a follow-up or cross-reference.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2011.550367

http://www.vertpaleo.org/source/blog/post.cfm/press-release-giant-extinct-rabbit-was-the-king-of-minorca

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/72081/title/Supersized_superbunny

Comments 6, 7, and 9

Looney Tunes, yeah! :)

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 13:45:21 UTC | #936266

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 11 by Peter Grant

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capybara

In South America they've still got giant guinea pigs.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 13:54:52 UTC | #936271

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 12 by Red Dog

Comment 11 by Peter Grant :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capybara

In South America they've still got giant guinea pigs.

Yes, thank Science for the Pan Flute Bands. But the worst is the guinea-saurus Rex.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 14:16:59 UTC | #936276

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 13 by Red Dog

Comment 10 by Zeuglodon :

Comment 5 by Red Dog

I remember reading Asimov's essay * The Relativity of Being Wrong. At the risk of sounding pompous, I already got the gist of what it was saying. However, Asimov's explanation was so well articulated that I came away with a better and more thorough understanding of the point because he explored his example (the shape of the Earth) further than I had explored it. I'm wondering whether to give his fiction writing, like Foundation*, a try.

I have to admit when I went back to re-read some Asimov fiction a while back it wasn't as great as when I was a kid. Then again what is? Like a lot of Science Fiction authors his characters are relatively two dimensional. However, the way he weaves good science into stories is great and also the way he shows how science can fundamentally change social dynamics. The Foundation series is fantastic as are his robot stories. Also has one of my favorite quotes "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent".

As for this article here, it reminded me a lot of Haldane's On Being the Right Size. That was an eye-opener of an essay.

Haldane is a wonderful writer and that's a great essay. One more thing I have to thank Dawkins for, never would have heard about Haldane except for one of Richard's essays.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 14:23:20 UTC | #936278

holysmokes's Avatar Comment 14 by holysmokes

Big fluffy rabbits? Well, so long as they are not the mad, mad, mad, killer version like the one in Monty Python's Holy Grail! I had nighmares for weeks! Where's my holy hand-grenade?

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 14:27:26 UTC | #936279

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 15 by Zeuglodon

Comment 13 by Red Dog

I have to admit when I went back to re-read some Asimov fiction a while back it wasn't as great as when I was a kid. Then again what is? Like a lot of Science Fiction authors his characters are relatively two dimensional. However, the way he weaves good science into stories is great and also the way he shows how science can fundamentally change social dynamics. The Foundation series is fantastic as are his robot stories. Also has one of my favorite quotes "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent".

I'll have to read some of his work. Right now I'm reading Ringworld by Larry Niven, and it's been intriguing all the way through, so far.

That quotation sounds familiar. Didn't Samuel Johnson say something like that about patriotism? "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."

Haldane is a wonderful writer and that's a great essay. One more thing I have to thank Dawkins for, never would have heard about Haldane except for one of Richard's essays.

Same here, though I also got to read Haldane's essay once I got R.D.'s Oxford anthology of modern science writing. I think Haldane also said that the one thing that would call evolution into question would be "Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian!" Sounds like a great guy to have around in a tense discussion - he could deflate the tension with comments like some of these.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 15:34:31 UTC | #936289

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 16 by strangebrew

I read the title as ...'Monster sized Rabbi's:

Still a little queasy even after realizing my error!

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 16:09:24 UTC | #936293

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 17 by glenister_m

Have they found any fossils of magicians on the island? How might they have evolved to compensate? Or did the giant rabbits force them to disappear?

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 17:01:39 UTC | #936299

CEVA34's Avatar Comment 18 by CEVA34

Have a look at this article, which I have often quoted online when trying to shoot down creationists who believe there used to be races of thirty foot giant humans...

http://fathom.lib.uchicago.edu/2/21701757/

I knew about Haldane when I was a kid (a LONG time ago) and enjoyed the stories in his "My Friend Mr Leakey", which is now in print again. I don't know what today's children would make of it.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 20:36:49 UTC | #936343

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 19 by Alan4discussion

On a more serious note, this just looks like the usual giant forms of animals evolving in protected island habitats devoid of their traditional predators and other forms of competition.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 20:46:43 UTC | #936346

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 20 by Helga Vieirch

I raise rabbits. You really don't want to know what a giant one could be like. The Dwarf varieties can be quite a handful. And, in the case of the Checkered Giants (and American Breed) the judges at shows are specifically cautioned not to get the rabbit riled - they wear Kevlar gloves up to their elbows to handle that breed.

Most buck rabbits are little love machines, with unbounded optimism. One of my Astrex bucks got loose one day and I found him in among the horses. He as running rings around the biggest mare, a 17 hand Black Canadian mare. He was trying to mount her feet, singing his little song of rabbity adoration, and spraying her liberally with each circuit. I ran like mad to recapture him, but was too late to stop Penny breaking one of his forelegs. She was just trying to tiptoe away from him, as gently as possible.

Poor Skippy! However his leg has healed well, and he is still an undeterred romantic. When we have guests for dinner, they are always impressed with the towering and intimidating size of our Wolfhound. At such times it is sometimes fun to say that Rotha fears only one thing - and that is the little rabbit. So we release Skippy from his cage, and, since Rotha is female, the rabbit sees her, begins to chirr in delight and run circles around her. The Wolfhound, dignified, proceeds immediately to the nearest exit with a pleading look on her face. Than I must corral Skippy, quick!. Especially when at lot of the guests are ladies.

By the way, rabbit hopping is quite the new craze. Don't believe me? Check out the following: Rabbit Show Jump Championships, Burgess Rabbit Jumping Grand Nationals, Canadian Rabbit Hopping Club Presents and there are a lot more.

Dear MODs _ I know I departed somewhat from the topic, but surely not from the spirit of the topic!

Sun, 22 Apr 2012 03:42:32 UTC | #936404

old-toy-boy's Avatar Comment 21 by old-toy-boy

This can't happen. No it really can't! The basic problem is that when you scale something up (or down), say you double the length, you square the surface area and cube the volume/mass. And different biological processes are dependant upon length area and volume, so you would get a miss-match when you scale up (or down).

Sun, 22 Apr 2012 15:52:39 UTC | #936470

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 22 by Schrodinger's Cat

Truth is stranger than fiction.......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT-YIbjiSFM

Sun, 22 Apr 2012 16:37:02 UTC | #936477

JumpinJackFlash's Avatar Comment 23 by JumpinJackFlash

Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

Sun, 22 Apr 2012 19:32:34 UTC | #936496

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 24 by strangebrew

Vicious little flee ridden critters we do not need bigger!

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 07:14:12 UTC | #936616

PERSON's Avatar Comment 25 by PERSON

Rodents of unusual size...

IIRC, dodos are descended from pigeons.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:09:33 UTC | #936669

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 26 by gr8hands

Look at the bones!

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 18:55:35 UTC | #936774

njwong's Avatar Comment 27 by njwong

Wow. That trailer for "Night of the Lepus" was really corny.

I did not see "Night of the Lepus" (nor "Harvey") back in the 70s. However, I did watched a B-grade "sci-fi" movie called "Food of the Gods" with a similar theme (giant animals kill humans):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuSwwZ1n6KU

The special effects look much better than those in "Night of the Lepus" :-)

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 08:19:38 UTC | #936946

Jumped Up Chimpanzee's Avatar Comment 28 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee

Interesting article, but I don't think it can be right in concluding that giant rabbits must necessarily be so different from an average-sized modern rabbit.

Take the points about the ancient giant rabbits of Minorca not having a hopping capability, and having front feet that were fully supporting and flat on the ground. Then compare this to modern kangeroos, who, to the contrary, very much have a hopping capability and front feet that hardly touch the ground at all - and they are considerably larger than those ancient rabbits.

The ancient giant rabbits of Minorca evolved to that particular environment, but in another environment rabbits could evolve to be relatively large but otherwise very similar indeed to an average-sized modern rabbit.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:47:46 UTC | #937007