August 08, 2010

Elk antlers

Elk antlers

On our vacation, we drove through towns where the people seemed obsessed with making arches out of elk antlers. One arch was more than 75 feet across, built from more than 3,000 antlers. Most of the arches didn’t hold up anything or connect two walls or act as a boundary. They were purely decorative.

The elk, one sign told us, shed their antlers every year. So no elk were actually killed for the construction of the arches. That fact did make me feel better as we drove through the town, but it still didn’t explain why all the arches were built. They didn't seem to serve any purpose. I guess if you live in an area of the country where herds of elk keep losing their antlers, you run out of things to do with the darn things. 


EmmaNadine said...

There's actually an amazing amount of mathematics behind elk antlers. Each elk will grow the same pattern antler year after year, just getting bigger each year. You can identify elk by their antlers, and you can watch the pattern develop, almost fractally.

I have a friend who has some elks that shed their antlers on his property every year, and he can identify which elk shed belongs to which elk. It's why you don't have to tag elk to identify them.

jo(e) said...

EmmaNadine: Really? That's so cool. I guess it makes sense. Sort of like how hair grows back the same texture and color no matter how many times you cut it.