Attenborough’s Oxford: hackodontus debateans


Hackodontus debateans is one of the most charismatic but sneakily dangerous species in the Oxford Jungle.  Throughout its life its ultimate aim is to get to the top.  This strange compulsion may have as its object the top of a tree, a building, or a pile of laddius brashius dung, but hackodontus is ruthless in its task and will take on any creature that attempts to prevent it.  It is rare, however, that hackodontus actually does its dirty work itself.  Its ingenious method of competition involves the use of its charm.  This is a dangling orange protrusion which hangs just in front of hackodontus’ teeth, which other creatures are strangely drawn to.  It uses this charm to lure other creatures from their nests and lairs, and then, in teams, hackodontus pin down the creatures by their tongues.  When the creatures are secure, hackodontus produces an alarm call which alerts the most fearful predators in the vicinity, such as reviewius harshius and tabloidius indiscreetus.  Leaving the predators to do their dirty work for them, hackodontus begins its ascension.

However, the dangers are not over yet as sub-species of hackodontus are often fiercely in competition with each other for the territory at the pinnacles of the Oxford Jungle.  The subspecies are differentiated by the colour of the stripe of fur down the centre of the otherwise white chest.  For example, hackodontus debateans torianus sports a blue stripe and hackodontus debateans laborianus a red one.  The subspecies will often try to push each other off branches or ledges as they attempt to ascend trees or buildings, successful attempts at the latter often leaving the losers in the gutter.  As individuals get closer to the top and their numbers dwindle, it has even been known for members of the same subspecies to ruthlessly send their fellows tumbling downwards.

The suffix debateans refers to the mating performance of hackodontus.  This involves the gathering of hackodontus in large numbers in sparsely forested areas and their separation into two groups which rest on long straight branches.  These have been named ‘houses’, rather amusingly, considering the sparseness of the surroundings.  In this arena, hackodontus individuals strut and vocalise loudly.  But only the very loudest will get mates, as the assembled crowd frequently attempts to out-do the performer.  The loudest individuals also tend to dangle their charm with abandon and their cheeks flush redder and redder as they continue to perform.  The actual mating process of hackodontus has never been caught on camera, as hackodontus spends so much of its time attempting to reach the top of things that it seems to rarely have the time to mate.  However, it is assumed that the dangling charm is put to extensive use in this rare act.

PHOTO/NS Newsflash


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