Humans love to pat yourselves on the back for having invented agriculture. As usual, squirrels did it first…. (More)
We don’t know the name of the squirrel who invented agriculture, way back in the dim mists of history. Those are different from the dim mists of a morning fog, which are both common and welcome in South Blogistan. To get from Árbol Squirrel to the mail room at New Venerable Hall, I usually scamper-and-stop. That’s an essential squirrel survival skill.
Squirrelonal Note: I still have my Scamper-and-Stop Merit Badge. Our son Regis and the twins, Nancy and Michelle, earned that badge too. In fact, Mrs. Squirrel and I bought six boxes of pecan pralines just last week. We wanted to help their Squirrel Scout troop. Really, that’s all it was.
My point was, on foggy mornings I don’t have to scamper-and-stop on my way to work. I can even stop to smell the flowers, like this guy:
— WorldFace (@gzlrsm) April 4, 2014
Squirrels appreciate plant life. We live in trees. We sometimes nap in shrubs. And we shop in gardens, which makes some humans upset because humans think you invented everything, including gardening and agriculture. Au contraire.
Acorns grow best when they’re away from the tree they dropped from. If they stay right underneath, the branches of the parent tree will block the sun. Of course, acorns can’t get up and walk on their own. That’s where squirrels and other animals come in.
Gray squirrels are pretty picky when it comes to burying the acorns they have collected. Researchers have discovered that they like burying crummy, less desirable seeds closer to the tree. But nicer seeds will be buried farther from the tree, as far as 200 feet away.
There’s a trade-off: The closer the acorn is to the tree, the better the chance another animal will find it and eat it. But burying the acorn farther away exposes the squirrel to predators such as hawks.
Sometimes a squirrel will bury an acorn far away and not come back for it. When that happens, the seed may sprout. That means another oak tree. More oak trees, more food for squirrels.
See? Agriculture … invented by squirrels.
“Now hold on!” I hear you saying. “That’s not intentional. You just forget where you left those acorns and they grow into trees because you never came back to eat them.”
Typical hubris. Have you noticed there’s no such word as squbris? I’m just sayin’.
Did you notice we plant the best acorns farther away, where they have a better chance to sprout and grow? Huh? Did you think that was just accidental too?
But here’s another example, from yesterday’s Squirrel Week column:
[Jefferson Park Golf Course regular Dianne Gannon] said she knew things were out of hand when she noticed cornstalks growing in the flower beds near the clubhouse. Someone was feeding dried corn to the squirrels. The squirrels had planted the kernels. A crop was coming in.
Had she left it alone, we’d have grown our own food and we wouldn’t have had to ask the golfers. Then again, we like golfers:
Lest you worry, Sammy the Squirrel’s life returned to normal after the tournament:
Again, my point was that squirrels not only plant oak trees. We also plant corn. It’s been documented. By humans. And there’s no reason to think that’s some new thing we just started doing. So I’ll bet a squirrel taught humans how to plant things, way back in the dim mists of history.
Right after the squirrel stopped to smell a flower.
So Happy Squirrel Week, everyone!
Good day and good nuts