“The world is a wild and unlikely place,” writes Katherine Rundell in a short but delightful essay in the latest issue of the London Review of Books. For proof, look no further than the giraffe. Even its birth, she writes, is cause for wonder: “They gestate for 15 months, then drop into existence a distance of five feet from the womb to the earth. It looks as brisk and simple as emptying out a handbag.”
It gets weirder. Giraffes use their 20-inch tongues to clean out deep inside their own nostrils. They drink water only every few days—because “each time a giraffe dips down to drink, legs splayed, the blood rushes to its brain; as it bends, the jugular vein closes off blood to the head, to stop it fainting when it straightens up again.” In one study, ninety-four percent of observed sexual behavior was male-on-male.
A wild and unlikely place, indeed. How did we ever lose our sense of wonder at the strangeness of it all?