Image Credit: jans canon, CC BY 2.0, Image Cropped
Baldrick: I have a plan, sir.
Blackadder: As cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?
Baldrick: Yes, sir.
Even if you’re not familiar with the British classic Blackadder, if you’re an English speaker the expression “cunning as a fox” will need no explanation. Our fascination (or in some cases disregard for) the intelligence of animals, and our comparison of animals to our own levels of intelligence, have been a part of language for centuries.
Image Credit: Sharkcrew, CC BY-SA 4.0, Image Cropped
In February 2022, a British swimmer was killed by a great white shark (Carcharadon carcharias) near Sydney, Australia. Unsurprisingly, this gained significant media attention. State authorities launched a search for the culprit, with the aim of culling/relocating it away from people. This plan would seem, on the surface, to make perfect sense – shark ate human, make it go away. Yet this logic is largely based on a widespread misconception, and an outdated theory that science has long since abandoned.