The bigger they are, the slower they swat.
According to a new study published Proceedings of the Royal Society B, larger animals tend to react much more slowly to physical stimuli than smaller animals.
When scientists tested the reflexes of an elephant and a shrew, they found that the shrews response time was 100 times faster than that of its larger test companion.
The velocity of messages sent through nerves maxes out around 180 feet per second, so those messages have a long distance to travel in an elephant.
What keeps elephants from surviving attacks from the spritely little critters of the world, scientists theorize, is their capacity for foresight and risk avoidance.
- Big Animals, Slower Reflexes (New York Times)
- Scaling of sensorimotor control in terrestrial mammals (study)