Fainting Goats

Domestication has enabled many a bizarre mutation to endure that almost certainly would have led to doom in the wild. The fainting goat must be high up on this list. This entire breed of domestic goat suffers from myotonia congenita, which causes the animals' muscles to freeze for approximately 10 seconds when excited. This usually results in the goats collapsing or standing motionless, but can also lead to a stiff legged hop.

Also called Tennessee (Meat) Goats, Nervous Goats, Stiff-leg Goats, Wooden-leg Goats, and Tennessee Scare Goats, the animals were brought to Tennessee in the 1800s by a reclusive farmer from Nova Scotia. Little is known about their origins prior to this time. I can only imagine how much amusement backwoods 19th Century moonshined farmers got out of these creatures...

In normal animals, chloride ions act as a buffer to the action potential. But in fainting goats, the small rise in potassium levels immediately following an action potential is increased ten-fold, causing spontaneous contractions. Scientists do not believe that the goats suffer any sort of pain from this condition, so no need to feel guilty about enjoying this great clip.


More like this

No matter how many times I see video of them, I never get tired of watching their little legs fly into the air as they roll over. And that indignant 'ba-a-a-a' is only too easily imagined as 'WHY WON'T HUMANS GET TIRED OF THIS! GOD!'

Just think, an entire species saved from extinction for its amusement value. And yet I still have no dog-sized bug pets. Progress has cheated me.

By Melissa G (not verified) on 27 Aug 2007 #permalink

A whole species saved from extinction by domestication. In the wild, the fainting goat would have been dinner for a predator long ago, probably wiping out the gene in one or two occurrences!

By Dr. C. A. Munson (not verified) on 10 Sep 2007 #permalink

more like an entire species engineered for amusement. Disgusting. Humans are a disgrace as a species.