Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Herodotus, Population Biologist

I was at a population biology talk today, where the usual cute historical snippet was Herodotus's theory of low birth rates among predators --
The lioness, on the other hand, which is one of the strongest and boldest of brutes, brings forth young but once in her lifetime, and then a single cub; she cannot possibly conceive again, since she loses her womb at the same time that she drops her young. The reason of this is that as soon as the cub begins to stir inside the dam, his claws, which are sharper than those of any other animal, scratch the womb; as the time goes on, and he grows bigger, he tears it ever more and more; so that at last, whenthe birth comes, there is not a morsel in the whole womb that is sound.

No comments: