I'm a ruminant. That is, I've been ruminating. Trying to think of a topic for today's post.
The gerenuk I saw at White Oak yesterday is also a ruminant; he was, after all, ruminating.
Stephanie, our tour leader told us to pay close attention to the gerenuk's long neck when we saw him placidly chewing his cud. Sure enough, we saw the peristalsis carry the food bolus down his neck to his stomach. Either his esophagus is in front of his trachea, or his neck is so thin that the descending food extends the ripple effect through the trachea.
"Cool" we said.
"Wait, keep watching"...and a moment later, the food ascended back to the animal's mouth, and he continued placidly chewing.
"Yuck" we said.
The gerenuk continued his placid, back and forth mouth movement, eyes distant, looking for all the world like he was deep in thought, chewing over some difficult problem, ruminating.
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The rumen is the first stomach of a ruminating animal, which has two. In it, microorganisms work on the food bolus, and return it to the mouth for more mastication. Ruminants include cattle, deer, antelopes, giraffes.