Upside-Down Rhino Research Wins A 2021 Ig Nobel Prize

Sometimes science is weird. The Ig-Nobel Prize is awarded to scientists whose research goes beyond the traditional experiment. This year’s winner? A team that hung rhinos upside-down to measure their blood flow! It’s tough being a rhino these days.

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Full Text:

An experiment that hung rhinoceroses upside down to see what effect it had on the animals has been awarded one of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes.

This prize, often considered a joke that should make you think, is presented by real Nobel laureates. The prize: a trophy they had to assemble from a PDF print-out and a cash prize in the form of a counterfeit 10 trillion dollar Zimbabwean banknote.

Other recipients of this year’s prize included a group who studied the bacteria in chewing gum stuck to pavement; another studied how to control cockroaches on submarines; a third studied communication between humans and cats.

What could be more important (or daft) than hanging 12 rhinos upside down for 10 minutes from helicopters? The rhino study does exactly this. The team wanted to know if the animals’ health might be compromised while slung in that position from a crane. Surprisingly, this experiment had not been conducted before.

Their evidence, in fact, showed that rhinos coped better in this upside-down position than lying down on their chest or on their side. As it turns out, being upside-down for a rhino is much like standing up normally, their lungs were equally perfused. It will be exciting to see which animals are next.

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